Yoav Galant
Former GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant Photo by Roman Poretzky
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Israel has no clear or consistent policy on the Gaza Strip and Hamas, nor any coherent ideas about how to deal with them, according to WikiLeaks documents obtained exclusively by Haaretz.

Telegrams sent by the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Washington in November 2009 also show that Israel refused the Americans’ request to allow more goods into Gaza to assist the population. Israel insisted there were no restrictions on “civilian merchandise” entering the Strip.

While the leaked telegrams explicitly say that Israel wants to strengthen the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, as well as PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, they also say that Israel has taken several steps which contradict this goal.

For example, in 2008 Shin Bet security services head Yuval Diskin was reluctant to agree to the American request that PA forces trained by the United States be allowed flak jackets, armored vehicles and additional weapons.

“There are too many weapons in the West Bank,” Diskin said.

A statement made by former GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant almost a year after Operation Cast Lead ended reflects Israel’s inability to formulate a consistent, clear approach to both Gaza and Hamas.

On November 11, 2009 the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv reported to Washington that “Israelis are enjoying the best security situation since the outbreak of the second intifada [in 2000], the result of Israeli intelligence successes in destroying the suicide bombing network in the West Bank as well as good security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority’s security forces.”

“The IDF general responsible for Gaza and southern Israel, Major General Yoav Galant, recently commented to us that Israel’s political leadership has not yet made the necessary policy choices among competing priorities,” the telegram says.

In the short term, Galant said, Israel wants Hamas to be strong enough to enforce the de facto ceasefire between the two sides and prevent the firing of rockets and mortars into Israel.

In the medium term, Israel wants to prevent Hamas from consolidating its hold on Gaza. In the long term, however, Israel wants to avoid having to reoccupy Gaza and assume responsibility for the welfare of its population, Galant told the Americans.

In talks with U.S. defense and intelligence officials in November 2009, IDF officers praised the Egyptians for arresting a number of smugglers and estimated the Egyptians had blown up between 20 and 40 smuggling tunnels along the border.

One of the American officials present, Tom Goldberger ‏(posted Friday in the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv‏), said he had figures indicating the Egyptians had blown up some 200 tunnels. He then asked Israel to allow more merchandise and products into Gaza, in view of the population’s dire situation.

“There are no restrictions on civilian goods,” retorted Amos Gilad, who heads the Defense Ministry’s diplomatic security bureau.

“Israel appears determined to maintain its current policy of allowing only humanitarian supplies and limited commercial goods into Gaza, while sealing the borders into Israel,” the telegram reads.