Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to evacuate Jewish communities from Gaza and parts of the West Bank is a “disastrous” military move and a major victory for terrorism, Israel’s former intelligence research chief told WND.

In an exclusive WND interview yesterday, Yaacov Amidror said, “There is no military advantage to leaving Gaza. You lose control on the ground, the ability to conduct intelligence operations and to stage ground efforts into Gaza City and Khan Yunis. You let Hamas and Islamic Jihad have a safe haven to launch terrorist actions from and in which to grow their terror apparatus.”

Amidror also served as commander of Israel’s School of National Security until 2002.

Sharon last week declared the Gaza Strip and towns in the northern West Bank closed military zones in an effort many see as the official start of the Aug. 17 evacuation.

The withdrawal has been largely portrayed by Sharon’s office as a move necessary to bring peace to the region. Pro-withdrawal lawmakers argue Israel can no longer maintain military control over the areas and say political and tactical concerns warrant leaving Gaza and the northern West Bank.

But Amidror disagrees.

“On most levels, this plan is disastrous,” he said. “Politically, what this does is puts the onus on Israel. Sharon is unilaterally giving the Palestinians Gaza and parts of the West Bank. Now Israel will be expected to make further withdrawals from other areas with nothing from the Palestinians.

“Tactically, this is a reward for terror,” he continued. “The Palestinians understand this retreat is due to the great successes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We know this from polls that show 74 percent of Palestinians believe Israel is leaving Gaza because of the violence used in the so-called armed struggle. Leaving Gaza is giving into terrorism. For the long run and for the whole process for fighting terrorism in Israel and around the world, the Gaza retreat is a huge mistake.”

Amidror, echoing statements he made in a press conference earlier this week sponsored by the Israel Resource New Agency, told WND many in Israel’s defense establishment do not support the withdrawal plan.

“Those in defense believe leaving Gaza and the four West Bank settlements is a grave mistake. [Former chief of staff Moshe] Ya’alon has come out against the withdrawal. But Sharon didn’t ask the defense people before he made his decision. The decision was made by politicians.”

Some have warned Gaza must be vacated for reasons of demography. If the 1.3 million Palestinians in the area secure the right to vote, Israel’s Jewish character would be threatened, they argue.

But Amidror said, “This is pure nonsense. No one here has ever recommended annexing Gaza into Israel. In fact, there is a fence between the two. There is no immigration from Gaza into Israel. The demographic argument doesn’t hold water. The Gaza evacuation itself doesn’t hold water.”

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Editor’s note: “ISRAEL BETRAYED?” – the July issue of WND’s acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine – is devoted entirely to an in-depth exploration of the controversial forced removal of thousands of Jewish residents from Gaza planned for August, and the likely creation of a Hamas-run terror state many believe will follow. Read more about “ISRAEL BETRAYED?”

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