The IDF as a Danger

He proposed to the astounded gathering that he arrange a meeting between them and the new Palestinian Authority police chiefs. "You wouldn't believe how they are cooperating," said the commander, certain that the security officers would jump at the opportunity to meet the new PA peace partners.

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

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Arutz 7
During the height, or depth, of the mirage of peace according to the Oslo Agreements, the Hevron brigade commander sat down at a routine discussion with more than a dozen security officers of Jewish communities from Kiryat Arba, Hevron and the southern Hevron Hills.

He proposed to the astounded gathering that he arrange a meeting between them and the new Palestinian Authority police chiefs. "You wouldn't believe how they are cooperating," said the commander, certain that the security officers would jump at the opportunity to meet the new PA peace partners.

After a few jaws dropped open, one of the security officers responded, "Why are you trying to politicize us? Our job is to protect our residents from terrorist attacks, not to meet with the enemy."

That was the end of the brigade commander's initiative, but also was one more small chapter in the sorry history of IDF officers sniffing the air for a promotion by unquestioningly following the government political line.

The position of Hevron commander before the Oslo War was one that many officers tried to dodge, fearing it to be a trap between the government's continuing concessions to Yasser Arafat and the certainty of murderous terrorist attacks.

One brigade commander, at another meeting with area security officers, said out loud that he did not want the position. He managed to wiggle out of it in six months and now is one of the most senior IDF officers, having managed to sidestep sticky situations that would require protecting citizens at the cost of a promotion. And who can forget Ehud Barak, the champion of fighting Hizbullah terrorists in their own territory who did an about face and literally raced out of Lebanon? He then won the race to be the worst-ever prime minister before the Knesset mercifully, although belatedly, awarded him a no-confidence motion.

Obviously, no government can function when its defense officials oppose it policies, but Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's blatant campaign to create a single-mindedness ultimately is the most dangerous of policies. He sealed this one-dimensional thinking with the appointment of his friend Dan Halutz to replace Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon as chief of staff.

Sharon's unprecedented move not to extend the term of office of Ya'alon, unquestionably one of the best IDF chiefs of staff and a person whose stature was that of a mentsch, was in large measure due to Ya'alon's serious reservations about the Disengagement (read: expulsion) Plan. In such an atmosphere, it was not surprising that Ya'alon and Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz could not work together.

The prime minister appointed Mofaz to his present position after he failed to get around the law preventing him from becoming a Likud party candidate within six months after retiring from the army as chief of staff. Mofaz was a tough-on-terrorist commander whose desire for more power has compromised his concerns for security.

Less than two months ago, after an attempted suicide bombing in Be'er Sheva, Mofaz took a 15,000-shekels-an-hour helicopter ride to the Hevron Hills area, where the terrorists were suspected of getting around checkpoints.

"Do not have mercy on anyone," Mofaz directed troops.

The soldiers on the roads thoroughly checked every vehicle and every person. After a couple of weeks, the time came for more goodwill measures and Mofaz ordered the removal of most of the checkpoints, including one on the highway that passes the Gush Etzion junction. The intentional laxity in security for the sake of a dubious policy of propping up a spurious Palestinian Authority government abruptly ended two days before the beginning of the Sukkot holiday. Armed terrorists waited at a former IDF checkpoint at Gush Etzion, and gunned down two young women and a 15-year-old boy before fleeing. Mofaz immediately re-instated checkpoints and ordered all local Arab vehicles off the road.

The murders were a carbon copy of the killing of two students at the Hevron Hills Bet Haggai junction several months ago. The terrorists came from Hevron less than a month after the IDF eased travel restrictions on local Arabs, in order to fulfill the government's pledge to prop up faltering PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).

The attacks are a direct result of IDF commanders concerns for their own personal advancement in the face of clear and present security dangers to the people it should be protecting.

The IDF's merger with the political establishment has dangerously weakened our army.


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