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June 17, 2016 3:41 am

Former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff: Until Middle East Stabilizes, Withdrawal of Israeli Military From Judea, Samaria, Jordan Valley Would Be ‘Irresponsible’

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Former IDF deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yair Naveh. Photo: IDF Spokesman.

Former IDF deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yair Naveh. Photo: IDF Spokesman.

A former deputy chief of staff of the Israeli army said that any decision to withdraw the IDF from Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley before the situation in the Middle East stabilizes would be “irresponsible.”

This was among many assessments made by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yair Naveh during an interview with Israel Radio’s Esti Perez on Thursday.

Naveh also explained why he was, and still is, critical of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza in the summer of 2014.

“[Israel] was playing on a different field from Hamas,” Naveh said. “We were trying to achieve a military victory, while Hamas was seeking political gains.”

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Under such circumstances, he said, when two sides are after different goals, the whole notion of deterrence becomes irrelevant.

“What is clear to me is that Hamas’ main objective is preserving its survival as an organization.”

Therefore, he said, “In any confrontation with the group, past or future, it is its survival that Israel has to threaten. And it has to be made to understand that it is not immune…We certainly shouldn’t have said, as we did during the war, that we have no intention of harming its rule in Gaza.”

Naveh took issue with the notion that if Israel defeats Hamas, “a crueler ruler will follow.” This is the “wrong approach,” he said, adding, “Gaza is a human tragedy… with nothing but high birth and unemployment rates.”

Asked by Perez when the next war with Hamas will take place, he said, “I hope there won’t be one.”

Regarding plans to construct an underground wall to separate Israel from Gaza, Naveh expressed skepticism about its effectiveness, due to the great depths of some of the Hamas tunnels. However, he said, borrowing from an old adage, “Good walls make for good neighbors.”

Questioned about IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi’s comments about Hezbollah at this week’s annual Herzliya Conference – that Israel is “better prepared than ever” to confront the Lebanon-based Shi’ite terrorist organization serving as an Iranian proxy — Naveh likened Israeli deterrence in the North to that of the South.

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