IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot appeared on Tuesday before the plenum of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, headed by MK Avi Dichter (Likud).
Addressing the decrease in terror activity across Judea and Samaria despite claims that the IDF is not doing enough to combat terror in the region, Eisenkot said, ”Soldiers are being killed and wounded, and hundreds of soldiers are operating every night to reach these results, to eradicate the terror, so there is no place for the statements about a weak army.”
The army chief noted that over the past 10 months more than 3,200 people have been arrested in Judea and Samaria, 200 weapons have been seized, some 20 lathes for the production of weapons have been destroyed, IDF soldiers killed 166 terrorists, and seven uninvolved people were killed as well. Eizenkot expressed sorrow over the death of uninvolved.
He further told the committee that due to the extensive activity of the army and the other security establishment bodies in Judea and Samaria, there is a growing realization on the Palestinian street that the path of terror is futile. The fact that in Judea and Samaria there are between 300,000 and 400,000 people who earn salaries and do not want to jeopardize their livelihood for terror is undoubtedly one of the causes for the relative restraint among the population.
(IDF Chief Eisenkot during Tuesday`s meeting)
Since ”Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza, the IDF chief said, Hamas has been building up its strength while working to contain rocket fire towards Israel, mainly by Salafist groups, ”because we respond by attacking Hamas targets.” The two years since the operation have been the calmest along the Gaza border since 1968, Eizenkot added.
Both sides have an interest in maintaining the calm and stability, he said, noting that more than 1.2 billion shekels have been invested so far in seeking a solution for the underground threat, this is addition to the more than 300 million shekels invested in the construction of a barrier along the Gaza border.
Eizenkot said that while Hezbollah fighters are gaining operational experience in Syria, the high percentage of casualties among the Shiite group`s fighters has plunged it into a deep strategic crisis. Hezbollah`s missile arsenal has grown, but Israel`s intelligence and its operational ability to deal with this threat have improved significantly since the Second Lebanon War.
Eizenkot said that while the army has the trust of a high percentage of the public, he is aware that any damage to this trust may impede the army`s ability to fulfill its duty. ”The statements that have recently been made regarding operational issues that are being examined in the military command and judicial system do not affect the internal process in the IDF,” he said.
”Many statements have been made without knowledge of the facts in order to promote certain agendas that should not be linked to the IDF. We want the IDF to operate according to orders, rules of engagement, and the IDF`s spirit and values. If anyone wants the ethos of a gang, he should say so.”
The chief of staff also addressed the case of Brig.-Gen. Ofek Buchris, who has recently been indicted by the IDF for rape and indecent acts, and said that he is obligated to Buchris as an officer with many [achievements], just as much as he is obligated to the female soldier and officer that were harmed. He noted that Buchris served in the IDF under his command on many occasions, and that he was the one who chose to promote him to the rank of brigadier general.
Eizenkot said that it was clear to him that he must suspend Buchris until the matter is clarified in court. ”Claims that the promotion of officers from a certain sector is being delayed are far from reality,” he said.
Turning his attention to the appointment of Eyal Krim as the new Chief Military Rabbi, Eizenkot said that an examination took place before his appointment, including a deliberation within the military, together with former chief rabbis as well as defense authorities in which Rabbi Krim is active in. The chief of staff said that they all praised his work, his ”Beth Hillel” rulings, and said that he has original solutions for many issues. Moreover, Rabbi Krim received praise for his work towards the enlistment of females in the IDF.
Eizenkot said Rabbi Krim`s operational background was a key factor in his decision to uphold the appointment.
In light of the claims that were made during the debate, Committee Chairman MK Dichter decided to submit to the committee plenum a draft resolution presenting its support of the chief of staff and the IDF commanders. The draft resolution will call to keep the IDF outside of the political debate so as not to harm the public`s trust in the IDF.