Israeli Security Cabinet Meets Following Sudden Pullout From Gaza
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened Tuesday a meeting of his security cabinet to review the pullout of Israeli troops from areas in the Gaza Strip it had occupied a day earlier, said Israel Radio.
The report said several of the 13 security cabinet members demanded an explanation as to why they had not been consulted on the decision Monday night to send troops into occupy territories in the Gaza Strip under autonomous Palestinian control.
Those same ministers also intend to complain about the decision to withdraw those troops Tuesday night after a harsh rebuke from US Secretary of State Colin Powell, although Israel has denied any connection between its retreat and disapproval from the US government.
According to the radio report, senior defense officers said that Ben Eliezer lied when he claimed that he told them the occupation would last only until night fall.
They said that when he visited the south region Tuesday noon, he did not say even one word on the expected withdrawal.
But the defense minister told reporters that “Israel had no intention of occupying the Gaza Strip.”
Meanwhile, the radio added that Sharon accused Chief of Staff, Shaul Mofaz, of not conveying his messages regarding the expected withdrawal on time and thus, the officers in the field were surprised to get the order to evacuate Tuesday night.
Israel had denied that it pulled out from Beit Hanoun under pressure from the US, but some Israeli internet sites reported that Israeli officials gave withdrawal orders following a US criticism of Israel’s Gaza commander who said that "the Israeli forces will stay in Beit Hanon as long as it takes...days, week, or even months."
Due to the US pressure, Sharon, Ben Eliezer and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres decided to give the withdrawal order immediately, said the report – Albawaba.com
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