[IMRA: Unfortunately, the Sharon team has yet to actually think through the
diplomatic/military scenario involved with a re-occupation. One reason for
this may be that Prime Minister Sharon is adamant that Israel will retreat
regardless of the morning-after consequences. It would come as no surprise
that if Israel faces a diplomatic/military disaster after the retreat that
many defense officials will then dig out various "back covering" memos that,
buried in the text, predicted it.]
A conversation with a satisfied customer
By Ze'ev Schiff Haaretz 18 May 2005
"In the present conflict against Palestinian terror, the IDF had excellent
intelligence, like no other army has ever had in dealing with terror. I have
found no other army with such quality of intelligence in a war of this
This statement came from Brigadier General Gadi Eisencott, commander of the
Israel Defense Forces' Judea and Samaria division, who for the past two
years directed most of the operations against terror organizations in the
West Bank. He is one of the chief consumers of intelligence in Israel's war
on terror, and consumers of intelligence are, as is well known, usually very
critical. They tend to claim that they did not have enough information or it
got to them too late, after the enemy had changed its position.
If Eisencott, who served in the past as military secretary to prime
ministers Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon, is appointed the next head of the IDF
Intelligence Branch, he will have to preserve the same high level of
intelligence supplied to the forces in the field, and even improve it.
It is often mistakenly thought that most intelligence information comes from
the Shin Bet security service, but in fact a great deal of it originates
with military intelligence, through the eyes and ears of its battalions in
Eisencott is among those who argue that advanced technology, including the
air force, is not enough to win the war on terror. The enemy must know that
it faces experienced fighters who also use pistols, and at short range. That
is what causes terrorists to run and hide.
At the next stage of the fighting, after intelligence is obtained, must come
control over the territory and the population. It is this control that
ensures success. Eisencott was asked if in the case of the territories this
success was not "too great," that is, did the army hit the Palestinians too
hard, also bringing down the Palestinian Authority's security organizations
so that no one was left to take over after Arafat's death?
Eisencott pointed out the surprising fact that in spite of the harshness of
the blows, and with Palestinian security forces actually in collapse, the
civilian system - education, health and most municipal systems - continued
to function impressively.
And what will happen after the army withdraws and its control becomes very
limited? In this case there will be no choice but to transfer control to the
Palestinians, who will be assisted by third parties, such as American and
British intelligence. And if the Palestinians can't manage to control
Eisencott believes that many Palestinians today think that terror does them
no good. That, apparently, is one reason that the activities of Hezbollah
are limited in the territories. Israel must reinforce as much as possible
the economic brakes on terrorism, especially by granting permits to work in
At present, the decision has been made not to strike the organizations
supporting the cease-fire, which includes Hamas, except under extraordinary
circumstances. On the other hand, the IDF continues to operate against
Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front, which oppose the cease-fire. The
inclination is also not to operate in areas that have been transferred to
the PA unless it involves a "ticking bomb" and the other side is not
honoring its obligations.
The most difficult component Eisencott foresees in case of an outbreak of
violence is the firing of Qassam rockets and mortars from the West Bank on
adjacent Israeli cities. The assumption is that Israel will have zero
tolerance under such circumstances, and Eisencott believes there will be no
choice but to reoccupy the area from which the rockets were fired.
Will renewed violence break out after disengagement? Perhaps. Opinions are
divided about this in the IDF; it is clear to many that it depends to no
small extent on Israel as well.
The army must be prepared for any eventuality. As long as there is no such
outbreak, it must recommend steps that increase Palestinian motivation to
rein in violence. If violence is renewed, the IDF must do everything to win
tangibly at the lowest possible cost to the Israeli side.