Security Council Deputy Warns of Disengagement Dangers

A growing number of defense officials are warning that withdrawal from Gaza and the northern Shomron will place numerous cities and strategic facilities within range of terrorist rockets.

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, | updated: 13:18

The latest warnings were issued during a meeting of the Knesset Interior Committee on Wednesday. “It is very likely that the territory to be evacuated in the context of the disengagement plan will be taken advantage of [by terrorists],” warned Lt.-Col. Itamar Ya’ar, Deputy Chairman of the National Security Council.

The committee assessed that the area threatened by missiles after a withdrawal would expand by 6-12 miles - and not 4-5 miles as has been previously assumed. Cities such as Ashkelon, Netivot, Ofakim and Kiryat Gat will be within firing range. The withdrawal from the northern Shomron, too, will place Beit She’an, Afula, Hadera and the towns of the Jezreel Valley within the sights of terror groups taking advantage of the newly evacuated areas.

The speakers warned that despite the enlarged radius of endangerment, the Home Front Command has only been given a mandate to develop defense programs for the 46 communities within a 4.3-mile radius of Gaza. No plan whatsoever has been formulated to defend those endangered by the Samaria withdrawal.

The current plan does not include main cities like Ashkelon and has only been granted partial funding. Home Front Command spokesperson say the funding does not suffice to provide for the security needs of the citizens in the effected locales.

Of particular concern were reports regarding the vulnerability of Israel’s main power stations in Ashkelon and Hadera, as well as the Eilat-Ashkelon oil pipeline – none of which are considered in the current defense program. Similarly, other industrial facilities within the threatened radius have been completely ignored by the programs to defend the newly threatened areas.

The manager of the water utility, Dr. Dreizen, also told the committee that the loss of control of the northern Shomron will likely create serious problems for Israel’s water infrastructure. He said that it could bring about the drying up of the Jezreel Valley water supply and the salination of the coastal aquifers.