Photo Credit: Flash 90
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz at ceremony to honor Harel Brigade, May 30, 2014

The Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrilla fighting force is among the most heavily armed in the region, according to IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who told the 2014 IDC Herzliya Conference on Monday that Israel is facing a lethal threat.

Israel’s military chief said just Israel and the top five nations of the world currently have more firepower today than Hezbollah. According to Gantz, the only nations more heavily armed than Hezbollah – which is supplied by Iran – are “the U.S., China, Russia, Israel, France, [and] the UK.”

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It was a sobering moment for the audience at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, who heard that Israel is facing a new type of threat, one that originates from underground. Terrorists in Lebanon and in Gaza use bunkers, where they store their arms – in much the same way Israelis used underground facilities to produce bullets during the British Mandate to prepare for the 1948 War of Independence.

Attendees also heard the army chief explain that Israel’s neighbor to the north, Syria, is disintegrating. Regardless of what happens on the other side of the border, none of the options will be particularly good for Israel, Gantz explained. He added that “decades of conflict” are likely to continue in Syria, “perhaps more.” Hezbollah is actively involved in that war, fighting to defend President Bashar al-Assad; the experience gained in that fight may well aid the terrorist organization later in a future war against Israel, Gantz warned.

Moreover, a second front is again developing in the south with Gaza, where mid-to-long range missiles have again been stockpiled for a future war with Israel as well. Both the ruling Hamas terror organization and its allied Islamic Jihad terrorist group are fully backed by Iran, as is Hezbollah. All three would function as proxies for Iran, which has not given up its dream of annihilating Israel.

Nor has Iran abandoned its goal of developing a nuclear weapon of mass destruction, Gantz said.

Israel will take whatever action is deemed appropriate to neutralize that existential threat against the Jewish State, he said.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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