Photo Credit: IDF
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot

Israel’s military chief of staff says the IDF is willing to share intelligence with moderate Arab states, and exchange information with Saudi Arabia.

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot gave a rare, exclusive interview Thursday with the London-based Elaph newspaper, warning that Iran is building a Shiite Crescent from Tehran to Beirut, through Iraq to Syria and then to Lebanon, across the Gulf from Bahrain to Yemen, and “even the Red Sea.”

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It is the first such interview with an Arab newspaper, the Saudi Arabian-owned Elaph noted.

Eizenkot told the paper the Israeli army will continue to help villagers in the Golan Heights with their medical needs, and help their Druze brothers with humanitarian aid.

The Chief of Staff said that Saudi Arabia and Israel have common interests in dealing with Iran, according to the report, and “denied the IDF has any intention to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon, but added Israel will not accept any strategic threat to its [people or territory].”

Eizenkot said at the outset of the interview that the State of Israel is now at its best, militarily. “We have evolved a lot,” he said. “Everyone knows that we have a top military force, intelligence, air force and infantry, and we have a deep appreciation of the moderate countries in the region.”

The Israeli military chief said there is no doubt about Iran’s intention to attain nuclear capability. ‘There is also no doubt about Iran’s intent to extend its influence in to the different regions, and to activate the arms of its proxies such as Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad and al-Houthi,” he said.

“Third, Iran is trying to change the rules of the game in the region through the transfer of expertise and building weapons factories, and supplying advanced weaponry and other aircraft,” Eizenkot said. “They are investing large sums of money in the [Syrian civil] war, and the various militias…

“You can see the Iranian plan is to control the Middle East… from Iran through Iraq to Syria, Lebanon and across the Gulf from Bahrain to Yemen and even the Red Sea,” he warned.

Eizenkot underlined the need for an international coalition in the region, and said the opportunity to create a unified front against Iran existed with President Donald Trump.

“In this matter there is complete agreement between us and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the IDF chief of staff said, “with regard to Iran and the need to confront [Tehran] and to stop the expansion program.

“There exists with President Donald Trump an opportunity for a new international alliance in the region and must create a comprehensive strategic plan… to stop the Iranian threat. We are ready to share our experience with moderate Arab countries and exchange intelligence to confront Iran. We are ready to exchange information with Saudi Arabia if necessary. There is much in common between us.

“We have a clear policy of non-interference in the Syria war,” Eizenkot added, “and only when we saw an attempt on our Druze brothers recently did we become involved, as you wrote in Elaph. We deployed our armored division on Mount Hermon, and warned that we would attack if they advanced; thus the crisis ended.”

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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.