The uniformed men had braced for violent resistance. Instead they were greeted with prayers, laments, outpourings of bitter outrage and chorused recitations of Psalms. The soldiers must have asked themselves: What happened to the “violent extremists,” the loonies they had been taught for more than a year to confront? And why were 40,000 combat troops called up to evict a few thousand civilians, half children, who had clearly no plans of physical resistance?
Police commissioner Moshe Karadi confessed his surprise at the sparse violence in most places. If the present pace is sustained, this part of the operation could be over much sooner than expected and with a lot less pain….
There are three possible motives behind the decision to deploy excessive force:
1. The IDF is ignorant of civilian life, especially in Gush Katif – an illogical assumption.
2. Poor intelligence – impossible since the soldiers have been living and operating in the enclave 365 days a year and are familiar with every home and grain of sand.
3. This leaves the third premise, that the operation’s military planners were under orders from their superiors to deploy a colossal force for reasons of their own. Chief of staff Lt. Gen Dan Halutz and police commissioner Moshe Karadi take their orders directly from the prime minister Ariel Sharon and defense minister Shaul Mofaz. The question therefore, is what game were they playing?
There are two hypotheses:
One, As a veteran general, Sharon is accustomed to commanding large bodies of men. In his mind, Gush Katif was no different from any other front.
Two, Or else, the political campaign to discredit and demonize the substantial opposition to the prime minister’s evacuation plans was best served by inflating the size of the force required to handle it.
The local media played a key role here. Day and night, they harped on the grave menace posed by so-called right-wing extremists to elected government, senior officials including Sharon and democracy at large. The threat was built up to monstrous proportions. Nothing less than full mobilization would have served to match it. To pursue this tactic, prime minister used the armed forces as a political instrument rather than for their dedicated mission of defending the nation against its enemies. Israel’s Supreme Court of Justice played into his hands by declaring the IDF’s mission was to defend democracy, which in fact was not threatened.
Not just the local media. Those NRO writers about whom I wrote below appear to be doing their part to demonize the Jewish settlers.
Defending democracy. We seem to be hearing that phrase a lot recently.