Photo: Ronny Sofer
IDF Gaza withdrawal ceremony
Photo: Ronny Sofer

Which side is senseless?

Bleak estimates made by Israeli intelligence sources prior to pullout proved to be wrong

The IDF officers who oversaw the pullout operation from the Gaza Strip are well aware it was not only their organizational capacity that was responsible for the fact the withdrawal went so well.


The efficient coordination with the Palestinian Authority, and the fact that no armed Palestinian squad interrupted with the troops' final withdrawal contributed greatly to this success.


The IDF's final night in the Strip marked the conclusion of four months of almost uninterrupted quiet, a quiet dominant throughout the implementation of the disengagement.


The collective sigh of relief in light of this, camouflaged a phenomenon we have all become used to by now: The bleak estimates made by the Israeli intelligence sources were once again proved to be wrong.


Again those who are entrusted with our security worldview cried "wolf'," but those cries turned out to be mere uneducated guesses combined with a tendency to exaggerate risks.


For months we heard explanations about the ongoing battle in the Strip carried over between the factions regarding who will get the credit for the Israeli withdrawal, a battle that will be accompanied by increased efforts to harm soldiers and civilians.


Only two weeks ago the chief of the Intelligence Branch warned that the Palestinians will rally to attack Gush Katif even before the IDF had evacuated the settlements, saying the Palestinians will attempt to attack soldiers once the pullout is completed. Shin Bet Head Yuval Diskin said that after all civilians are evacuated from the Strip, Palestinian restraint is bound to lessen.


Intelligence sources believe Palestinians lack any sense


These statements joined a long line of previous pessimistic predictions assuming that the pullout will be carried out under fire. Two weeks prior to the withdrawal's outset, Diskin – who is usually more careful than his military colleagues – estimated that the disengagement has a "50-50 chance" of going by peacefully.


All these things have been said despite numerous Hamas statements to the contrary, and despite the fact that a simple analysis of interests would have lead to the conclusion that for the vast majority of the Palestinian groups – obstructing the disengagement makes no sense.


The withdrawal, which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sought to present as punishment for the Palestinians, was perceived by the Palestinians themselves as a triumph. Hamas and Islamic Jihad knew that whatever happens, they will be thought of as the ones who caused Israel to flee from Gaza. They also knew that most of the population prefers the disengagement passes quietly.


But in the eyes of our intelligence sources, the Palestinians lack any sense. The only sense they may possess is represented in a saying according to which "the Palestinians will never miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity."


Some people in the IDF had evaluated the situation correctly. Not surprisingly, these were people who have daily interactions with the Palestinians.


Sometimes they just don't know


The Chief of the Coordination and Liaison Department of the Gaza division, Yoav Mordechai, estimated prior to the pullout that it will go over smoothly, simply because this is what his Palestinians counterparts told him, and because his own logic indicated that nobody wishes to be the last one to die in a struggle which had already been decided.


But despite the intelligence background of some of the people belonging to the Coordination and Liaison department, the evaluation sources consider them to be biased and influenced by their close contact with the Arabs.


The Israeli decision makers also consider open conversations or newspaper opinion pieces to be unimportant. They just can't get enough of material that was secretly obtained, even if it does not provide a clear view of the situation, or if it goes against logic.


And besides, a well known fact is that it never hurts to send out warnings. According to an old saying in the intelligence community, no warning that was proven wrong had ever ended up in an investigation. The warnings are also a measure which helps to paint the enemy in bleak colors, as a senseless being, thus legitimizing the use of force against it.


All these reasons should make us, the civilians, treat future intelligence alerts very cautiously: Although it is possible that those who warn us base their estimates on facts and analysis, is also very possible they are merely serving their own interests, or – as we occasionally find out – they just don't know.


פרסום ראשון: 09.16.05, 00:21
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