Gideon Shalit’s Abduction Was Preventable

Maj.-Gen (Ret) Giora Eiland traced the breakdown which allowed a Hamas-led squad overrun an Israeli army post on the Israeli side of the southern Gaza border, kill two soldiers and snatch Corporal Gideon Shalit on June 25, to an “operational” breakdown. He did not lay it at the door of commanders and their conduct.
“None of them lied or failed to perform their duties,” said Gen. Eiland, former national security adviser, in the report on the inquiry the chief of staff entrusted him to carry into the causes of the incident at the Kerem Shalom post.
Most damningly, Eilat affirmed that the corporal’s abduction could have been aborted. The kidnappers and their hostage were clearly visible on the unit’s electronic screens as they crossed the border into the Gaza Strip, but the tank commander delayed by first asking his superior for permission to open fire and abort their flight.
The only action Chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz took on receipt of the report Monday, July 10, was to announce he had raised the matter in conversation with a number of commanders. Halutz made no mention of how he would handle Eiland’s comprehensive denigration of an “operational breakdown – from battalion and brigade level all the way up to the top of the division and general staff. ”
Neither was this finding itemized. Eiland himself did not recommend dismissals. His restraint was no doubt motivated by the general disinclination to give the enemy free points at a time when the IDF is engaged in combat in the Gaza Strip, especially when the commanders targeted for criticism are at the front line.
According to debkafile‘s military sources, the two generals are counting on the Gaza operation, which the IDF launched on June 28, three days after the Hamas assault on the army post, stealing the limelight from the faults found along the entire chain of command. Our sources say that Eiland directs most of his disapproval at three to five officers from the ranks of colonel, brigadier general, major general and lieutenant general.
At the same time, General Eiland omitted to asked the three searching questions that might have laid bare the root-causes of the fiasco at Kerem Shalom:
1. Was this a one-time slip-up or a part of a long-running string of lapses?
2. Was it the natural, preordained consequence of the operational directives coming down from the prime minister, the defense minister via IDF chiefs?
On June 23, two days before the attack and kidnap, debkafile exposed the five taboos prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Amir Peretz laid down for military operations to counter the Qassam missile blitz against southern Israel.
One banned Israeli forays into the areas of the missile sites in Gaza and ambushes on Palestinian side of the border fence.
Read the original article HERE
Eiland refrained from asking whether those strict prohibitions may not have handicapped the command levels of the army to the point of rendering them incapable of performing their duties. They officers had due warning of an impending Palestinian cross-border attack through an undiscovered tunnel. What more logical than to put IDF ambushes squads behind enemy lines to trap the assailants when they return to their base in Gaza? Knowing they might be there, the Hamas-led kidnap team would have realized its escape route with Shalit was blocked and might have been deterred from the abduction.
3. The Eiland probe should have examined the strategic concepts guiding Israel’s top commanders before and after the fall of the Kerem Shalom post.
Given the far-reaching consequences, the Israeli public is entitled to a lot more enlightenment.
The tailored facts released show a prime minister and defense minister still in a state of denial over the root-causes of the present security crisis. Israel’s unconsidered disengagement from the Gaza Strip and its military withdrawal from the Philadelpi border route in September 2005 constitute Israel’s most damaging military and political blunder in a decade. Until this is confronted and objectively analyzed, the top IDF brass will be constrained from looking squarely at the escalating terror threat posed by Hamas-in-government and addressing it with all the considerable professionalism at their command.
Such cool analysis is the target of Olmert’s primary taboo. With the premiership, he inherited from Ariel Sharon the deadly fallout from this bungle, along with the leadership of the Kadima party, whose only raison d’etre after rubber-stamping Sharon’s disengagement from Gaza is to continue the process on the West Bank.
The scales have fallen from many Israeli eyes in the wake of the Gilead Shalit disaster. People have begun asking hard questions, such as how did Hamas come to take over Palestinian government in the first place. And why is Hamas being permitted to terrorize southern Israeli with Qassam missiles after the Gaza Strip was handed over lock, stock and barrel to full Palestinian control. And the missile menace is beginning to percolate into the West Bank too.
Even some of Kadima’s leading figures appear perplexed.
In his report to the chief of staff, Giora Eiland implied that the IDF may be in urgent need to revise some of its outdated concepts and apply a fresh approach to the new realities – even at the cost of standing up to civilian government. Unless this is broached, Israel’s armed forces are in for more command failures and further misfortunes.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email