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High Alert: Exclusive interview with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon

Yisrael Joskowitz and Eliezer Shulman

While Israelis mourn the two IDF soldiers killed last week in the Golan Heights and speculate on the targeted killings of Iranian and Hezbollah operatives who were planning to infiltrate Israel’s side of the border, there’s an underlying question in the air: Is war brewing on the northern front? In an interview with Mishpacha, Defense Minister Moshe (“Boogie”) Yaalon says “not now,” but assures that the army is prepared for every eventuality.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

But what about the US? Will it still stand by Israel if the worst-case scenario plays out, after the Obama administration’s fury over Netanyahu’s “cooked up” invitation to Congress and the US president’s refusal for a meeting? Yaalon, whose position as defense minister means he’s not only on the physical battlefront but on the political one as well, doesn’t seem to be too worried. He’s had many greater foes: His tenure as defense minister follows an illustrious military career that began in 1968, he fought in six wars and served as IDF chief of staff before entering the political arena on the Likud slate. Although Yaalon, 64, is considered a hard-liner when it comes to both security and the Land of Israel, he was actually an early supporter of the Oslo Accords. He eventually changed his position after working in military intelligence and realizing thatYasserArafat viewed the return of territory as just the first stage in the war against Israel. His major focus during his tenure as chief of staff, from 2002 to 2005, was the army’s effort to quell the Second Intifada, and the IDF conducted Operation Defensive Shield under his watch. But he vehemently objected to the Gaza disengagement and left his post a month before its implementation. Yaalon made international headlines this past summer, when he said about the US secretary of state, “the only thing that can save us is ifJohnKerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us alone.” Following are some excerpts from a wide-ranging conversation.

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