Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman repeated Tuesday the analysis he gave to U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis last week in Washington: namely, that Israel has three problems: Iran, Iran and Iran.
Liberman added that following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation Monday night of an intelligence haul displaying the extent of Iran’s nuclear program, Israel now faces a fourth problem: The refusal of the international community to accept Iran’s nuclear ambitions, preferring instead to bury their heads in the sand and ignore reality.
“From Yemen to Iraq, from Lebanon to Syria, Iran threatens freedom of speech and democratic values. This is the same Iran that is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the transfer of command over the IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit from Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav (Poli) Mordechai to Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu-Rokan, Liberman told representatives of the Druze community, Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, bereaved families and government officials gathered at Nebi Samuel, a pilgrimage site outside Jerusalem, that Iran’s ongoing threats to “erase” the State of Israel would not go unheeded.
“Israel cannot allow itself to ignore Iran’s threats … We will continue to do what we need to,” Liberman said.
As the first Druze member of the IDF General Staff, Abu-Rokan said his appointment was only the latest expression of a decades-long covenant forged between the Druze community and the Jewish people and said that ensuring the security of the State of Israel and all Israelis would be the overriding goal of his service as COGAT.
Mordechai, Abu-Rokan and Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot all spoke about the challenges facing IDF forces, both in Judea and Samaria and along the border with Gaza. Abu-Rokan said he assumed his new role with “deep understanding” of the responsibilities of interacting with the Palestinian Authority civilian population, particularly at checkpoints around Judea and Samaria, but also stressed that he would be guided only by ensuring the security of Israel.
Turning to the residents of Gaza, Abu-Rokan said their Hamas leadership was “choking you” by encouraging people to clash with Israel along the Gaza-Israel border.
“Let me send a clear message to the people of Gaza,” Abu-Rokan said. “Riots above ground, terror tunnels underground – they will not help you,” he said, adding that Hamas was leading the enclave down a dangerous path.
Outgoing COGAT Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav (Poli) Mordechai said the ceremony marked the end of 36 years of military service, and added that while he had known many ups and downs during his military career, he always considered it a privilege to wear the uniform of the IDF.
Mordechai added that he had consistently been strengthened by the IDF personnel who surrounded him during good times and bad, and said he gained strength by returning to Jerusalem, whether from Lebanon, Judea and Samaria, Syria, or Gaza.