Unpublished Sharett Diaries Dig Deeper Into Defense Minister Lavon

In January 1955, defense minister Pinhas Lavon proposed a horrific plan for a military operation in the Gaza Strip and ordered the chief of staff to employ certain means in the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria. Then-prime minister Moshe Sharett got wind of the plan and recorded it in his journal, the first and almost complete account of which will appear in Haaretz Magazine tomorrow. According to Sharett, Lavon "plotted atrocities that were averted thanks to the outrage of chiefs of staff."

Sharett wrote that Moshe Dayan was "appalled" by Lavon's proposal about Gaza, and that his predecessor, Mordechai Makleff, "blanched" when he got the order to employ these means at the Syrian border. Sharett, said Lavon, who bore responsibility for Israeli acts of terror in Egypt, proposed similar actions in the two countries "to keep things jumping in the Middle East."

Sharett's diary was first released in 1978 and was considered one of the most important sources documenting the history of Israel. The organization devoted to Sharett's legacy, which is publishing his writings, recently found a file containing hundreds of passages that were not included in the original eight-volume diary.

Yaakov Sharett, the writer's son, told Haaretz that the association is now preparing a new edition of the diary.

The portions of the diary to be published in tommorow's magazine reflect the debate between the head of the defense establishment on the usefulness and worth of killing Arabs involved in terror, a kind of precursor to the debate over targeted assassinations.

Following the sending of two letter bombs to Egyptian envoys, Sharett summed up how Isser Harel, the head of the Shin Bet security service, responded. "This trick can provoke and justify reactions of personal terror which we will not be able to defend against and will cost us dear. [Isser] was not asked in advance about the use of this stratagem, and will henceforth insist that his opinion be sought. His impression is that the act was decided on from a very narrow point of view, without thought for the expected consequences, both in Israel and for the security of our representations abroad."

The portions of the diary now released for publication also reveal that the Shin Bet listened in on phone calls between party heads and MK David Ben-Gurion, and Sharett received reports of these conversations.