Former IDF chief of staff Moshe Yaalon
Photo: Ori Porat

Yaalon: Sharon planned pullout out of personal distress

As IDF troops enter Gaza, former chief of staff Moshe Yaalon says disengagement was planned by people lacking military, strategic expertise

Former IDF chief of general staff Moshe Yaalon said Thursday that Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip is a failure, saying the plan was conceived to save former prime minister Ariel Sharon from political distress.


"There is no doubt that the disengagement failed. This failure emanates from the fact that the disengagement was essentially based on a doomed idea. It was not the result of thorough strategic analysis but the result of a political distress of his who was prime minister then, Ariel Sharon," Yaalon told Haaretz.


Yaalon, whose term at the helm of the army was not extended by a year under a common IDF practice, added that "the disengagement was an internal Israeli game that ignored what's going on outside Israel. It was a disengagement from reality and a disengagement from the truth."


Speaking to Haaretz, the former chief of staff said: "The process created an illusionary hope that was not planned strategically and practically. The disengagement was mainly a media spin. Those who initiated it and lead it lacked the strategic, security, political and historical background. They were image counselor. They were spin doctors. These people put Israel in a virtual spin that is disconnected from reality using a media spin campaign which is imploding before our eyes."


"The intellectual failure of the disengagement is this: the fact that there is no one to speak to on the other side doesn't mean that we can ignore the other side and the effects of his activities on us. The fact that even the Fatah leadership is not ready to recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish state while it says it is committed to the road map peace plan doesn’t mean it is possible to ignore the fact that pulling out under fire is perceived as surrender and encourages terror," he said.


He added that "The disengagement was a strategic mistake of the first order. It brought about Hamas's victory. It emboldened terror groups. It has fueled the Palestinian struggle for years. It created a feeling among the Iranians, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al-Qaeda, that Israel can be beaten. That Israel is a society of spider webs as Nasrallah said or a rotten tree as Ahmadinejad said. And therefore the disengagement not only harmed us badly, but also harmed America's strategic war on terror in the region. It created a feeling among Muslim extremists that as it defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan it defeated us in Gaza and it will defeat us in Tel Aviv. As such, as they destabilized a super power, they will destabilize the west by defeating Israel."


'Like a weak animal'


He said: "At the moment our situation in Gaza is similar to south Lebanon. Plenty of arms have been smuggled into Gaza: explosives, Katyusha rockets, anti-aircraft rockets, anti-tank rockets, Grad rockets. As a result of the manner in which the pullout was carried out, there are Hizbullah, al-Qaeda and Iranian elements in the Gaza Strip.


"The Israeli public backed the disengagement because it was blinded and drugged and also because it really wanted to free itself from the burden of the conflict and divide the land. But we have to understand that although we are trying to shake the Palestinians off our backs they refuse to do so and stab us instead. We shouldn't fool ourselves. We live in the Middle East. We cannot barricade ourselves behind walls and fences. There is no such thing as unilateralism. Even when we refuse to talk with our neighbors there is interaction with them.


Our steps affect them. When the steps are withdrawal after withdrawal, after withdrawal, we convey weakness. And he who conveys weakness in the Middle East is like a weak animal in nature: he comes under attack."


פרסום ראשון: 07.06.06, 10:05
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