Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz discussed cuts in Israel’s defense budget and their implications for the IDF today (Monday, July 15), speaking at a conference of the Manufacturers Association of Israel.
“We live in a challenging environment,” the Chief of Staff said. “Every day here could end differently than it started. Therefore, we are charged with maintaining vigilance, intelligence surveillance, the appropriate preparedness, the ability to move from one situation to another at the maximum possible speed – because war is never what you planned.”
Lt. Gen. Gantz emphasized both the magnitude of the budget cuts and the IDF’s ability to adapt to them. “The IDF will make a significant effort to raise another 7 to 8 billion shekels. Of my twelve years on the General Staff, I do not recall anything like this,” he said, explaining that the budget cuts will force the IDF to reduce forces in certain units.
“We don’t do any of this without concern – we do this through responsible, stable and prudent decision making, and by understanding that some of these changes will detract from the IDF’s internal resources.”
The Chief of Staff stressed that “the returns from the budget cuts will come in two, three or four years, meaning that IDF forces will be smaller, far stronger, far more skilled and far better equipped. We must dare to change – even if it is much more comfortable to remain in a familiar environment.”
Lt. Gen. Gantz also drew a broader picture of the strategic situation, saying that terrorist organizations continue to establish themselves in Egypt, especially due to the rise in instability in the Sinai Peninsula.
“This area challenges us in terms of security, but the Egyptians, the Jordanians and we have a shared interest in maintaining peace there,” the Chief of Staff said.
On the topic of the Gaza Strip, Lt. Gen. Gantz said that since Operation Pillar of Defense the sector has been relatively quiet, but terrorist organizations continue to grow stronger there through smuggling activities and by producing their own weapons.
With regard to Syria and Lebanon, Lt. Gen. Gantz said that the “total disintegration of these countries has created an unstable space. Not a day passes without an incident spilling over from Syria into Lebanon.”