IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz spoke today at the 14th annual Herzliya Conference, where he addressed the challenges to Israel’s national security and the threats that the IDF could face in the near future.
“The Middle East has undergone extreme turmoil in the past several years,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said Monday during a special address at the 14th annual Herzliya Conference in Israel. The military chief discussed the evolving security challenges facing the State of Israel in today’s world.
“As a military, we have to be prepared constantly,” Lt. Gen. Gantz continued. “This has been difficult lately because we don’t know exactly what the next day will bring.”
“Iran is continuing on its path toward a nuclear weapon, and it can not ignore the international isolation and the sanctions imposed on it,” Lt. Gen. Gantz stressed. “We must prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear capability — preferably through negotiations, but if necessary, through force.”
Threats from the North
“The situation in Syria is like a house of cards that is about to collapse, and we can see that democracy there is falling apart,” the military chief said of the continuing turmoil on Israel’s northern border. “The radical axis is growing stronger in the area, as is Jihad.”
Lt. Gen. Gantz explained that a range of outcomes in Syria could jeopardize Israel’s security. He stressed that Jihadi organizations and a strong Iranian-led axis pose particular concerns, warning that tens of thousands of Jihadis affiliated with terrorist organizations are dispersed in the north.
The Chief of Staff emphasized that the actions of these terrorists “are fueled by hatred toward western countries.” Hezbollah, he continued, is “gaining operational experience [in Syria] that Israel may be forced to confront on the battlefield.”
A New Reality in the South
Lt. Gen. Gantz also addressed recent changes in Egypt, where a new regime has taken power under the leadership of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. “Sisi’s regime is moderate and realistic,” the Chief of Staff said. “Although it may not be good, it is better than the regime two years ago.”
In Gaza, he said, “a dramatic armament of mid-long range rockets is taking place,” adding that “what most characterizes the region is instability.” He reminded the audience that just last night, a rocket was fired from Gaza and fell 300-400 meters south of the Gaza security barrier.
The military chief stressed that Israel faces an evolving terror threat alongside traditional challenges. “The threat of militaries has not disappeared,” he explained. “But other threats are surfacing. Israel is under an increased threat of rockets and missiles, many of which are mobile, concealed, accurate and located in houses and beneath houses.”
While conventional threats have not disappeared, other threats are developing. Lt. Gen. Gantz explained that these changes pose Israel with difficult challenges, but that the IDF has developed the ability to face a large range of threats. In the future, he said, Israel “must prepare to face them, just as it must prepare for traditional warfare.”
The Chief of Staff emphasized the importance of Israel’s advanced intelligence and accurate strike capability. He emphasized that through these advantages and others, Israel has maintained its strategic edge over neighboring terrorist organizations. “Hezbollah is deterred, and it knows what will happen if it threatens us from Lebanon,” Lt. Gen. Gantz asserted. “Hamas in Gaza also understands the price of war.”
People: the Most Important Part of the IDF
“We as a military understand that we are not alone; we are part of the State of Israel,” the Chief of Staff. “We understand the importance of education. Proof of that is Havat haShomer. Our commanders know that they not only have to give their soldiers orders, they have to attend to their welfare.”
“The most important part of the IDF is the soldiers― the people. Each one of them is significant. Every pilot who takes off has a team standing behind him: soldiers from intelligence, logistics and more.”
The Chief of Staff concluded with confidence in the IDF’s capabilities to meet every threat head on, and stated that Israel has two main advantages. “One is tragic but realistic: we have no choice. We have no alternative but to stand here as a strong and united nation.” The second advantage, he explained, is Israel’s people, “who work hard and never stop giving of themselves.”
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