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Former Shin Bet Intel Chief Speaks Bluntly About Failure of Israel’s Policy

Ami Ayalon. Credit: IDF

At an event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace event on Dec. 11, former head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic secret service and former commander of the Navy Ami Ayalon, called Israel’s current policy in Palestine a “huge failure.”

Israel’s approach was to “manage” the conflict, he said, which was supposed to be accomplished by using “divide and rule,” to make sure there was always a conflict between the leaderships of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Once that happened, and as the Palestinian Authority was weakened, Hamas began to grow in support, “because they became the only group or organization in the eyes of the Palestinians who fought against the Israeli occupation in order to achieve Palestinian liberation.” Now, “between 70 to 80% of the Palestinians are supporting Hamas, only because Hamas is perceived as the one who fights for its freedom,” Ayalon said.

The situation led Israel to believe that “Hamas is deterred,” he went on. But there is a difference in how Israel and Hamas measure success. Israel measures “hardware,” he said, which includes military installations, infrastructure, and human life—the more you take out, the “weaker” Hamas becomes. However Hamas measures in “software,” which is the support of the people on the street. That false assumption led Israel to conclude after every round of violence that Hamas was “deterred,” while Hamas saw it as a victory.

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