For the very first time since finishing his sanity as IDF chief of personnel and benefitting from military service a year and a half ago, Lt. Gen. (ret.) “I need to come back and make a difference,” he informs Israel Hayom in an exclusive interview.
Eizenkot says that after nearly 18 months of private relaxation, he wants to return. “I am looking at my opinion — Benny [Gantz], Gabi [Ashkenazi], Bogie [Moshe Ya’alon], and further back, [Ehud] Barak and [Yitzhak] Rabin and many others.
After a while off and twisting down, you take a look at what is going on here, and you would like to earn a better country and to really make a difference, and to awaken with a spark in mind. What’s this spark? Wait just a bit longer”
Q: In the past, those who know you said politics was outside of this question for you. It does not sound like that is the case today.
“I had been the army secretary for two prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon, and I had been at their sides 12-16 hours a day. I found close that the best way to create a difference is through leadership and action from within the computer system. Sharon explained that he really much valued thought and planning, but that the most essential issue is implementation. Because unlike in the military — in which the moment that you decide, everybody carries out everything you chose — in politics, the moment you decide, everyone works to sidetrack your choice. And yes, I believe that military people have qualities which are perhaps less acceptable for politics, however, it’s important we conserve them.
Eizenkot proceeds to expand on the effort against Iran. “This is a decision that has been accepted by the cabinet in early 2017. I see folks are talking about it and saying all kinds of items,
I’ll say this choice by the cupboard, together with my pushing and recommendation, is a major choice. The Israeli people perhaps isn’t aware, yet this conclusion changes it in Gaza, too, and anyplace else.
The Iranians, and the Quds Force particularly, suffered serious blows over the previous four years. What they have managed to do to us is not proportionate to what they have gotten .”
Q: Outgoing Defense Minister Naftali Bennett explained this week that the Iranians are beginning to withdraw from Syria.
“We need to set the goal of getting them from there, but whoever thinks they can strike a few times and this may occur is bitterly mistaken.
The activities that I spearheaded, that are continuing to this day, are preventing Iran from entrenching itself Syria and opening a second front against Israel, and also are blocking Hezbollah’s armament attempts, mainly its precision missile undertaking.”
“The performance unfolded as it did, and that I instantly realized it had been the gravest scenario for an operation of that type, but I’d tremendous confidence that the group in the area was the strongest in the Middle East,” he recounts.
I heard them, and watched Col. H and his poise, and that I trusted them, together with the perception we had a critical event on our hands which could get even worse.
I had already begun to look at a broad attack and also the possibility of sending in ground forces since I was not ready for yet another Gilad Schalit event.
“I picked up the phone and called [then-air force main Amikam] Norkin, plus I told him to prepare yourself with all the capacities of the air power to smash anything and everything to get them out of there. In my standpoint, there was never a question that we would do whatever had to be done in order to return.”
Q: Even to the point of going to war?
“Yes, going to war. It did not cross my mind to depart soldiers ”
Q: What about Gaza? Could we come to agreements with Hamas?
“Yes, however they have to be based on the agreements which were reached in Cairo over the last day of Operation Protective Edge: a comprehensive cease-fire; opening the border crossings and fishing zones, returning the Palestinian Authority to Gaza and beginning to rehabilitate [the enclave]; finalizing the matter of prisoners and missing soldiers; opening the airport at Dahaniya (at souther Gaza) and establishing a seaport in Gaza.”
Q: How far should Israel go at a deal to bring the captives and missing soldiers?
“Many deals are done in the past. We shouldn’t have a repeat of this Schalit version, because finally, a large number of terrorists were released and it gave a serious increase for terror. We’ve paid heavy prices for this.”
Q: Why What would you suggest, then?
“I believe the ideal cost was paid in the Goldwasser-Regev price. They obtained Samir Kuntar and another four offenders, along with 120 bodies.
Therefore we will need to bring them to the understanding they are paying price for holding two Israeli citizens who entered Gaza peacefully, and thus holding the bodies of soldiers and abusing the families.”