Diskin: A Palestinian unity government is not in Israel’s best interest, says Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin Monday
Speaking to reporters before the Palestinian Mecca summit of Feb. 6, Diskin said Hamas stood to gain most because, incorporated in a coalition with Fatah, it would win international acceptance and economic assistance. “Abu Mazen prefers this solution,” he said, “because he thinks he can twist Hamas’ arm, but this is a big gamble.”
The Shin Bet chief said Israel is disturbed by the presence of at least 10 Palestinian cross-border tunnels in Gaza that are designed to surreptitiously carry bombers out for attacks on Israeli communities and border positions.
He did not recommend an Israeli military operation against Gaza at this time, but in the long term, there might be no choice. It would depend on how fast Hamas was building its strength, its state of readiness, its challenge to the Palestinian Authority and the presence of a rational alternative capable of tempering the fundamentalist forces in Gaza. “Chaos in the Gaza Strip would not Israel interests,” said the head of Israel’s security service, “because it could produce a situation that was worse than the present situation, the worst of all being the rise of the international jihadist organization (al Qaeda).
But he warned of Iran’s dangerously deep penetration of the Gaza Strip as Hamas’ main arms supplier. Hamas operatives train in Iran for long periods.
Asked about an Egyptian request to expand the force patrolling their border with the Gaza Strip, Diskin said: “Cairo has an interest in expanding its troop numbers in Sinai and amending its agreement with Israel on the subject. If they can more effectively control the smuggling of war materiel from Sinai to Gaza, the buildup of terrorist strength would be slowed down and the need for us to reoccupy Gaza correspondingly reduced. Egypt holds the key to this issue. It all comes down to whether Cairo has the will to do this.”
Palestinian terrorist groups smuggled 28 tons of military explosives through the “rabbit warren” under the Philadelphi strip, compared with 6 tons in 2005 when Israeli troops controlled this border enclave.