By Mordechai Sones


After the Wye Summit, Ariel Sharon announced that yishuv residents should "seize the high ground" around the yishuvim to "create facts on the ground" which he claimed would determine the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the final status stage. Sharon's advice inspired the Yeshans. They toiled to create outposts. But now, the outposts are producing a practical effect different than the Yeshans intended: by evicting these vulnerable outposts one by one, Sharon may be creating the psychological momentum to facilitate large scale evictions in Yesha in the future.


During the Netanyahu-Sharon administration, Jews throughout different parts of Yesha frequently reported Arab gunfire, especially at night, to local IDF officials, but the officials claimed that the gunfire was caused by "weddings," not night attack training. The IDF officials were not alone in the "weddings" claim. Responding to complaints from Yesha, even the Prime Minister's office claimed in a letter that "shooting.was done at the time of weddings that took place in the area." The letter came the very same week that the Prime Minister and Sharon were carving away further slices of Yesha together at the Wye Plantation. It was only when residents from approximately 40 yishuvim discussed Arab attack preparations that they realized that the IDF officers throughout Yesha were making the same official claim of "weddings" as well. Then, the Israeli HaAretz newspaper broke a story entitled "Palestinians Training Forces to Break Into Settlements and Hold Positions." HaAretz's report about PA training to attack yishuvim was valuable because it again disproved the earlier IDF "wedding" claims. The false claims helped keep Yeshans in the dark about PA attack preparations.


The state of mind that would lead certain IDF officers to deceive Jews into thinking night attack training was only weddings is inconceivable to most Jews and friends of Israel. Despite the evidence, it was hard to believe that the IDF would facilitate a surprise PA attack. Given the ingrained trust of Yeshans for the IDF, many Yeshans still prefer to believe IDF claims instead of their own eyes and ears. Then came the discovery that a handful of IDF officers had arranged a similar surprise for the South Lebanese Army (SLA). On the night of May 22, 2000, one hour before midnight. ".the SLA was still in possession of all its arms and equipment, and the 2,500-man force remained intact.A soldier named Roni, with six years experience in the SLA, related that on 'Monday night at eleven o'clock we got a call from the Israelis [IDF counterparts] telling us that Hizballah is approaching and telling us to leave.'" The simultaneous IDF abandonment and Hizballah advance both achieved the element of surprise, inflicting a double shock on the SLA. By dawn, the SLA collapsed.


The IDF plans to withdraw and the Hizballah advance had both been kept covert. The IDF even skipped its normal withdrawal preparations to avoid tipping off the SLA, preferring to abandon armored vehicles, artillery, computers, and communication equipment to the advancing Hizballah. Had the Israeli government not feared a potential SLA decision to fight the Hizballah, the abandonment of millions of dollars worth of IDF equipment intact to terrorists would not have been necessary. Apparently, most IDF officers were also kept in the dark until the last possible moment so they would not be able to tip off their SLA counterparts. The willingness of the IDF to abandon all that equipment to keep its plans secret from its own officers is powerful evidence indicating how brittle such a policy would have been if people opposed to betrayal would have organized to forestall it.


Eighteen years of defending Israel's northern frontier together left strong bonds of trust between IDF and SLA officers. That night, a handful of IDF officers used that trust to issue orders for the SLA not to resist, paralyzing it. SLA officers later realized that even on their own they still had the firepower and the organization to handily repulse the Hizballah advance. ".Another SLA soldier said, 'We could have stopped them with our weapons,' but the IDF did not shoot and would not allow the SLA to shoot, either." On the day preceding the betrayal, the Israeli officers also deprived the SLA of its key resource for early warning. ".On Monday, May 22, Israeli officers told SLA secret-intelligence-services personnel in south Lebanon to leave." If the Lebanese commanders had placed more emphasis on such early warning indicators, they may have realized that a sudden abandonment was imminent. They could have used the remaining hours of May 22 to prepare their defenses. Barak's midnight abandonment would have been rendered unfeasible. By repulsing the Hizballah advance, the SLA would have suddenly created the issue in Israel whether to follow through with the abandonment. With every additional hour or day the SLA held on, Jews and friends of Israel would have more time to rally and reverse the abandonment before it had become a fait accompli. But instead, on that night, they followed orders and fled. It then became "every man for himself - head for the borders" - dispersing the SLA for good. But Lebanon was not the first time Israel used trust to produce the paralysis and surprise needed to accomplish a betrayal effectively.


After the Israeli government decided in June of 1981 to evict the Sinai Yishuvim, Prime Minister Begin "offered the Defense Ministry to Moshe Arens, but he refused to accept it because of his opposition to uprooting yishuvim." Moshe Arens' principled refusal in fact turned out to be a stroke of luck for the pro-eviction circle in government, because, instead of Arens, they found a Defense Minister skilled in the military art of surprise attack, willing to accept the messy mission of evicting Yamit - Ariel Sharon. With Sharon's acceptance of this mission, the plans to weaken, paralyze, and evict the 17 Yamit yishuvim began. Sharon was familiar with the settlements and the settlers because he had earlier "initiated the establishment of...outposts in the front lines of the Sinai to prevent a withdrawal." The Sinai settlers knew Sharon as someone who intimately understood the years of work and danger they had invested in the yishuvim. Understandably, they assumed he was one leader least likely to betray them. Thus they did not prepare to oppose the evictions. ".Does anyone really believe that Arik Sharon - of all people - really means to evict? And Raful [Rafael Eitan], as the head of the Army, he'll already find some trick. After all, he's 'with us.' We've got to explain, we've got to protest, we've got to strengthen the hand of the government, but a withdrawal there won't be. Begin and Arik won't let the disaster happen. After all, they think like us."


In Yamit.the image of Jewish soldiers swinging rifle butts at religious demonstrators on Israeli television traumatized the nation. Having seen that the IDF eviction of 17 Yamit yishuvim "traumatized the nation," steps had to be taken to create additional capabilities for possible future major evictions without having the IDF brutalize Israelis on television. Sharon, an expert in commando attack operations, may have come to similar conclusions. He was already cognizant that evictions of Jews from Yesha will also be necessary for the implementation of the Camp David Accords. This is where the Oslo Accords came in, authorizing the PA "...the use of wheeled armored vehicles.in the vicinity of the Settlements" with the capability to buckle yishuv gates and drive easily past the Yeshan defenders, none of whom has yet been issued an anti-tank weapon. No outcry occurred against the 45 armored vehicles allowed by Oslo, and evidence indicates that approximately 80 additional armored personnel carriers may have been added to the PA inventory.


Experts in commando operations note that specialized units and armor vehicles plunging through yishuv gates in the dark of night with the element of surprise could preempt the messy civil disobedience that occurred at Yamit and bring the eviction of Yesha to a swift and irreversible conclusion. To ensure the element of surprise is preserved, it is possible that plans to suddenly abandon Yesha would also be entrusted only to a similar handful of IDF officers, as in Lebanon. The success of this inner circle is far from assured. It will depend on keeping the Yeshans and most IDF officers ignorant or at least paralyzed on the night of abandonment. The yishuvim have not yet adopted meaningful countermeasures because most Yeshans are not yet conscious of the danger of a first strike, possibly combined with a sudden evacuation order. Thanks to the false IDF "wedding" claims and other official disinformation, a sudden Arab attack against yishuvim would still have the shock of surprise. Although the IDF often promises weapons to be made available to the Yeshans once a PA onslaught is imminent, the order to release and distribute such weapons would depend on an Israeli cabinet decision. A PA first strike's chances of success would increase if a handful of IDF officers issued orders to the yishuv security coordinators (ravshatzim) not to resist, but to evacuate. Such orders would have to come from the top, of course, i.e. Sharon himself. Is Sharon preparing to give such orders? One important clue stands out. He has assigned the same IDF general who carried out the surprise abandonment of Lebanon to be the OC Central Command, with Yesha under his jurisdiction, Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky. The perpetrator of Yamit is now working together with the perpetrator of Southern Lebanon. Yesha is apparently their target. This is not to say that the eviction of Yesha was Sharon's personal agenda, rather it was already implicit in the specific language that Menachem Begin signed at Camp David, specifying for the first time in history that "Palestine People" would henceforth be "Palestinian Arabs," thus setting the basis for evicting Palestinian Jews.


The majority of IDF officers who have studied Israel's strategic defenses recognize the Yeshan high ground as vital. Yet a decorated IDF general, like Barak, attempted to give away 98% of Yesha in exchange for a signature of dubious value. How can one explain this strategically suicidal behavior on his part? He may be part of a segment of Israel's policy elite that hides behind the ideologies of "Right" and "Left." What this segment actually pursues is the goal of abandoning Yesha to an Arab Palestinian state. By speaking in the name of the majority of Israelis who support peace, this tiny minority manages to keep a grip on our government and media that would be impossible to hold if their covert agenda was exposed. Apparently, Sharon may have become part of this small but influential segment of Jews pressing for the abandonment of Yesha. Struggling to understand this segment, let us spell out that most secular non-religious Jews see Jewish history as a valuable tradition, but among them is a small element engaged in a campaign to erase this tradition. Members of this segment were behind the "secular revolution." Some commentators have referred to this as "self-hatred," but "irritation with a Covenant" may be more accurate. For 3,200 years, there often have been Jews possessing a desire to reject a Covenant that they see as an irritating burden rather than a unique blessing. The presence of Jews in Biblical Israel (Yesha) is a living, breathing embodiment of this Covenant. In today's secular culture, the secular segment has metastasized in Israel as well as abroad. For them, the Covenant is no longer merely an irritation, but intolerable. The intolerability is such that they are willing to blindly sacrifice Israel's strategic viability and cultural heartland. To get rid of Biblical Israel and its Yeshans, they make concessions to Arabs whose commitment to Israel's elimination is so deep that it is impervious to appeasement. That is why, from the very beginning, this "anti-Covenant" segment of our government, military, and cultural elite tried to block, hinder, and discourage settlements in Yesha. But the settlements have persisted and held. The more yishuvim hold, the more Israel's elite is aggravated with this intolerable irritant, going to ever-greater convoluted means to be rid of them. Sharon's recent gratuitous concessions to the Arabs may be another indicator that he has become a member of this dangerous segment. Sharon, like Barak and Netanyahu before him, is expending diplomatic and military energy to make a policy of abandonment look like a "peace process." Therefore, significant numbers of people still cling to the idea of a peace process, which is merely a mask for the abandonment process hidden behind it. Once they understand that a betrayal and not a peace process is taking place, they would turn against it.


Abandoning or evicting people who are armed depends upon wearing them down, and then suddenly collapsing them in a surprise attack. If the first strike/eviction against yishuvim is not a fait accompli within a day or two, Yeshans still wavering whether to evacuate may begin finding the courage to resist. If the Yeshans do not summon the courage to take effective countermeasures against eviction, they will have acquiesced in their own betrayal by default. And in the eyes of the world we will have forfeited the moral right to our homes and our land. Because the hills on which our homes sit are the strategic backbone of Israel, our obligation to defend them goes beyond our obligation to protect our property from theft. The survival of Israel itself is at stake. Despite official attempts to confiscate and limit the weapons and ammunition available to yishuvim, each yishuv still has more weapons, ammunition, and trained personnel on hand than was available for the heroes of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. In the historical sense, it was their heroism that placed these resources in our hands, and it would be immoral for us to squander them in paralysis when Israel's own survival is at stake. But by exposing the covert eviction preparations, we can diminish the political support for the abandonment of Yesha and eliminate the element of surprise. If we adopt effective countermeasures, we can neutralize the threat of eviction.

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