IDF Chief of Staff: Islamists Are Rising

(Jerusalem Post) David Horovitz and Yaakov Katz - An interview with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz: Q: What was the motivation behind Hizballah's Katyusha attacks in the north on Sunday? Halutz: Hizballah wants to preserve its identity as an Islamic and jihad-driven group that sees its job as guardian of Lebanon. One of the motivations of Hizballah is to maintain a "hot" border as part of an attempt to explain why it would not be right for it to disarm, since it needs to protect Lebanon from Israel. This, of course, is false. We have nothing against Lebanon, and no interest in attacking the country. There is no doubt that in the last incident, Hizballah made a mistake. It opened fire, found us ready, and paid a heavy price. Q: What do you see as a solution on the Gaza front with regard to the Kassam rocket threat? Halutz: We are working on a technological concept that will provide some sort of solution, and we are also launching military operations. It is not safe to be a terrorist in the Gaza Strip. They know that we are always after them, and that though we may not always succeed, we will not stop. We will continue to hunt down those who manufacture [rockets], shoot, and are involved in launching attacks against Israel. Q: Assess Israel's overall geostrategic situation. Halutz: Islamic fundamentalism is getting stronger, and democratization in certain Muslim countries is not necessarily bringing moderate elements to power. In some cases, it has had the opposite effect - bringing to power extreme elements instead. Global jihad does not feel threatened enough by the entire international community. So far, the one country leading the war against global jihad is the United States, and they should be commended for conducting their wars on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iranians are determined to obtain nuclear weapons. We don't know yet whether the world will succeed in convincing them to give up their idea of nuclear weapons. Q: Does Israel have the ability to strike Iran? Halutz: Alongside the diplomatic efforts there is also at the end of the day a military option. Not one that will be launched by us, however, since this is a worldwide issue. The State of Israel is not the address to solve all of the world's problems. This is a global problem and not just an Israeli problem. Q: What is Iran's involvement on the Hizballah front? Halutz: The Iranians are pulling the strings when it comes to Hizballah and Islamic Jihad in the territories and also assisting Hamas. They are deep in terror up to their ears and they have a record of involvement in terror. The terrorism needs to concern us more than anything, not the nuclear [issue], where there is time. They have hosted Hamas leaders. They train some of the Palestinian terror groups as well as fund, host, and arm Hizballah. This Iran-Syria-Lebanon axis is a fundamentalist line of extreme and radical Islam. Q: How has Hamas' election victory changed the IDF's war on terror? Halutz: Hamas is continuing to build its terror organization. It is working to develop new capabilities, rockets, to smuggle in weapons and ammunition. I don't think the military threat has increased, but there is no doubt that if Hamas returns to terror activity, that will increase the volume of what we have to deal with. Q: Did our withdrawal from Gaza strengthen Hamas? Halutz: Hamas would have won even if we had not left Gaza. The main parameter is that there have not been any Israelis killed there since we left Gaza. Before we left Gaza there were some 30 civilians and soldiers killed a year. Now there are more Kassams fired than when we were in Gaza. We do not have responsibility over Gaza and our freedom of operation there has increased. We also have wider international tolerance.

2006-06-01 00:00:00

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