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IDF Commander: Terrorists Will Strike Ashkelon

Outgoing head of the Southern Command said, "Kassam rockets will reach Ashkelon, which is already in range." Dan Harel also admitted the IDF involvement in the expulsion was not purely military.

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 10/29/2005, 8:40 PM / Last Update: 10/27/2005, 9:53 PM

Lt. General Harel expressed fears that Egypt will not keep terrorists from attacking Israel. He added that Israel will have to live with terror on the south as it does in the north and depend on a "balance of terror" to maintain quiet.

Speaking in an interview with the Ynet Hebrew web site, Harel said flatly that Ashkelon eventually will be a target of terrorists. A huge electric power plant is located south of the city, about eight kilometers (five miles) from terrorist bases in northern Gaza

Concerning the expulsion, the outgoing commander admitted that the IDF acted in matters "that were not purely military." He added, "I am not sure the disengagement stemmed from security considerations, although I assume they were part of the considerations that brought the move."

Harel, who has been appointed IDF attache in Washington, said that it is too soon to judge the expulsion. "The question of whether the disengagement succeeded or not hinges on the objectives whoever thought up the idea hoped to achieve."

His principal concern is the 250-kilometer (155 mile) border between Egypt and Israel, which he called a "weak spot."

"Criminal activity is taking place along it and must be curbed. The danger is that the criminal platform can also be used to send terrorists to Israel. There were already some attempts that we stopped. I hope we can keep this balance, but doubt it, and I expect the Egyptians to do much more," Lt. General Harel told Ynet.

Concerning the chaos along the Rafiah border with Egypt following the IDF withdrawal, the IDF commander said "there was a big mess" in which terrorists and ammunition entered Gaza. "As far as we know, no weapons that change the balance of power were transferred. I’m not ruling out the possibility that it can happen."