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The general staff operations divisional chief, Brig. Gen. Eli Yaffe, is waiting for reports from various commands - the Air Force, the Home Front, the IDF Chaplain's Office, Operations, and the IDF Spokesman's Office.

Yaffe is supposed to collate the reports and issue his own summary of the unnecessary, expensive operation to fly a convoy of planes to Kenya after the Mombasa terrorist attack. Or as the gloating whisperers in the general staff call it, Shaul Mofaz's Operation Election Campaign.

When the Likud results published yesterday showed how poorly Mofaz had done in the Likud rankings after trying to win the confidence of his new friends, there were many grins. It had been a long time since so many people could take pleasure in the political failure of someone with so many pretensions.

Mofaz plunged into the elections after the sneeze of a brief winter cold, as a chief of staff who had failed to take a cooling-off period, and immediately sank to the lowly rank of grunt under Uzi Cohen of Ra'anana, soldier 199, which was Mofaz's number in the table of candidates. (Mofaz is 12th on the Likud Knesset list after Sunday's primaries).

Mofaz went into battle hoping to increase his personal political strength so he wouldn't be dependent on Ariel Sharon's favors. He came out strengthening the very image he wanted to weaken. Sharon invested so much effort against Netanyahu and on behalf of his son, Omri, that he neglected other sectors on the front line.

If and when he forms the next government and wants to give the Foreign Ministry to Labor launderer Shimon Peres, Sharon might find that he's forced to give Netanyahu the Defense Ministry.

Mofaz's fall came after five weeks in government. His political apprenticeship began with a campaign to become chief of staff, and continued with his assistance to Yitzhak Mordechai, the defense minister who vanquished Netanyahu and forced Mofaz's appointment on the government.

Now Mofaz has given Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon a problem. Ya'alon has always taken pride in speaking the truth, no matter how brutal. His relations with his subordinate officers, and with Yasser Arafat, derive from the degree of disappointment he feels in their failure to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. After all, that kind of truth-telling is the shining beacon of operational reporting in combat units, particularly Sayeret Matkal, despite the opposing evidence from the behavior of some of the unit's veterans when they reach politics or senior commands.

Ya'alon's credibility was damaged by Mofaz's drive toward a Knesset seat. Mofaz, a career soldier until August 11, pulled out a retroactive authorization from the Manpower Division that "his demobilization date was July 13."

That may be correct as far as the pension law is concerned, but it's not the determining factor according to the cooling-off period law. That reality cannot be rewritten, just as the earth will continue to turn on its axis even if the defense minister tries ordering the sun in Givon to stand still, and the moon to appear in the Ya'alon Valley.

At the National Command and Staff College, officers are taught to spike the enemy on the horns of a dilemma. Mofaz spiked Ya'alon on the dilemma - on the horn of telling the whole truth, harming the minister in charge, and interfering in a political process; or on the other horn of keeping silent and thus hiding the truth - albeit only for a passing moment and not without purpose, which also was a form of political intervention.

All this was for a place in the Knesset (that the courts could yet overturn), a seat between Gila Gamliel and Yuval Steinitz. It's the first time that two chiefs of staff have ended up with bleeding wounds from a bullet fired by one of them.