TEL AVIV (Jan. 26)
The chief of staff of the Israel Defense Force, Lt. Gen. Dan Shomron, believes that the Palestinians have given up on the idea of destroying Israel.
That is the price they paid for the limited political success of the uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Shomron said in an interview Wednesday night on Israel Television.
In return for some recognition of their cause, the Palestinians “have, in effect, given up the Palestinian Charter,” which calls for the destruction of Israel, he said.
Shomron outraged right-wing politicians by telling the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee recently that the uprising requires a political solution because it cannot be ended by military means.
In his TV interview, he maintained that the political aspirations of the Palestinians did not begin and would not end with the uprising, which they call the intifada.
Much of Shomron’s interview was devoted to a vigorous defense of the IDF’s methods used to quell the uprising, particularly the much criticized use of plastic bullets.
He maintained that the IDF has actually reduced casualties and that it will succeed “in a matter of time” to restore relative calm in the administered territories.
Shomron’s deputy, Maj. Gen. Ehud Barak, delivered a similar message in a question-and-answer session with the Foreign Press Association.
Barak said plastic bullets were being used as a last resort and actually helped reduce casualties.
When correspondents pressed him to explain the killing of 47 Palestinians in the past six months by supposedly non-lethal plastic bullets, Barak insisted that “overall during this period we have reduced the number of deaths by one-third.”
Quoting IDF figures, the deputy chief of staff said 352 Palestinians have been killed since the uprising started, “289 from IDF fire and the rest from other causes, including 30 killed by other Palestinians.”
He said that 4,300 Palestinians have been wounded and 5,600 confined to detention camps, 1,100 of whom were under administrative arrest.