Wednesday, January 27, 2016

IDF Assessment Reveals: Netanyahu, Army at Odds Over Terror Attacks

Amos Harel,

At a time when the prime minister goes all out against Palestinian incitement, the military tries to paint a more complex picture of the reality in the West Bank.

Image from article, with caption: Palestinian protesters hurl tires at IDF troops during a demonstration in the village of Kfar Qaddum near Nablus.AFP

An assessment released on Tuesday by the army regarding the Palestinians brings into sharp relief the gaps between Israel’s official position as reflected by statements from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others, and the analysis of experts. While the prime minister emphasizes the issue of incitement, and continues to make accusations against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Israel Defense Forces focuses on other aspects of reality in the West Bank. ...
While Netanyahu and some of his ministers stress incitement in the Palestinian media, the army presents a more complex picture. Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot warned last week that not even one of the more than 100 knife attacks had been preceded by a specific intelligence warning. The profile of the terrorist, as formulated by security officials, shows that few of them are members of terror groups, and they have relatively weak ideological motivation (beyond a basic hatred for Israel and the occupation). Instead, they are energized in part by Internet forums, and their main motive in recent weeks is revenge for the death of friends and relatives killed while carrying out or attempting to carry out attacks.
In other areas as well the army has not been strict about coloring within the lines dictated by public diplomacy officials. The chief of staff has already said that the nuclear agreement with Iran has “threats as well as opportunities.” Now the General Staff is saying that it would have been better if the agreement had also dealt with Iran’s regional subversive activities and its plots against Israel, but that its achievements in the realm of dismantling Iran’s nuclear infrastructure cannot be ignored. ... 
At a time when the headlines focus on the demands of Israel’s culture minister for declarations of loyalty and the controversy over censorship by the education minister, it is encouraging to see the army continue to present professional positions, without toeing the line of politicians’ expectations. The need to preserve the independence of the expert opinions of security officials is a lesson Israel had seared into it in past experiences. The question is whether this independence can be maintained for long even under the current circumstances.

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