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Posts Tagged ‘Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz’

Iran’s Terror Entity in Lebanon

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

In the chaotic Middle East, every day brings new strategic changes and brutal instances of violence, the one thing that has remained constant is Iran’s continuing construction of a military-terrorist missile base in Lebanon.

Through its Shi’ite Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, Iran today has formed a terrorist entity that is unprecedented in scope and firepower, whose rockets and missiles can strike any point in Israel.

During a recent security conference held at the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, senior Israeli officials divulged some staggering figures that give a sense of the significant capabilities Hezbollah has built-up.

To be sure, Israel has been preparing for the day it will need to tackle Hezbollah, and the Israel Defense Force apparently feels ready to deal with the threat if and when it is required to do so.

The threat, however, remains potent; and Hezbollah’s cynical use of Lebanese civilians as a cover from which to attack Israeli civilians remains a serious challenge facing Israeli defense planners.

During the conference, IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, pointed out that, “in Lebanon today, there are homes in which there are guestrooms alongside missile storage rooms. This is a clear intelligence reality.”

The situation was also addressed by Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan, who unveiled a government plan to find solutions quickly for the 30% of Israeli civilians who do not have rocket-proof rooms in their apartments, or access to bomb shelters in their buildings or the immediate vicinity.

In any full-scale war, Erdan warned, the Israeli home front will be pounded by thousands of rockets for up to three weeks, and every point in the country could be hit by Hezbollah.

One out of every 10 homes in Lebanon now has a rocket launcher or Hezbollah weapons stored in it, Erdan said. Civilian homes, he said, are constructed in southern Lebanon in a way that allows the roof to open up for the firing of a rocket at Israel.

An increasing number of Hezbollah’s projectiles, Erdan cautioned, are guided, accurate weapons, with which the terror organization will seek to strike Israeli national infrastructure sites, such as electricity production centers.

If the number of rockets and missiles possessed by Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are added up, he added, the number reached is 200,000.

“Our enemies,” he said, “want to break the spirit of Israelis, and get them to stop believing that we can have a normal life here.”

The IDF has very effective offensive plans for these threats, but the government also had to come up with new ways of keeping civilian life going during a future war, he continued.

“We need to create a mechanism to allow the continuous functionality of the home front, and not to return to scenes of the Second Lebanon War of 2006,” he said. “No other country is facing the threat we are today.”

Hezbollah is heavily armed, more so than most Western countries, but it is also deterred by Israel’s firepower. Additionally, its main focus today is on fulfilling the orders of its masters in Tehran and fighting in the Syrian civil war on the side of the Assad regime, a move that has provoked the wrath of Sunni jihadis. This change was noted in recent days by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who stated: “To those who are not yet aware, there is already a civil war in Lebanon. [The Sunni] Global Jihad, which has infiltrated Lebanon and is attacking Hezbollah, is blowing car bombs in [the south Beirut Hezbollah stronghold of] Dahia, and is firing rockets at Dahia and the Beka’a Valley [in northern Lebanon, where Hezbollah is also based].”

During the conference, new ideas were put forward by top security figures on how Israel might enhance its deterrence even further.

Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council (which advises the prime minister), said Israel should reject the idea that it must fight against terrorist guerrilla organizations embedded in civilian areas, and return to the idea that it is fighting enemy states.

It is impossible to defeat guerrilla forces, Eiland argued; but if the enemy and its territory are defined as a hostile state, victory becomes possible once again. “In 2006,” he said, “we tried to do something impossible by hitting rocket launchers. If tomorrow there is a third Lebanon war and if we try to do the same thing, the result will be worse. We and Hezbollah have improved tactically.”

“If war does break out,” he added, “treating Lebanon as an enemy would end the conflict in three days, not three weeks,” Eiland predicted. “This entails bombing bridges and other state-affiliated targets, though staying clear of civilian sites like schools and hospitals,” he stressed. “It is not right for us to accept the idea of fighting low-intensity counter-terrorism conflicts. We should move to an interstate conflict system.”

One out of every ten homes in Lebanon now has a rocket launcher or Hezbollah weapons stored in it, according to Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Home Front Defense Minister.

From a Small Village in Africa to an IDF Elite Unit

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Cadet D. grew up quite differently from his fellow soldiers. He spent his childhood as a shepherd in a small village in Ethiopia, and immigrated to Israel at the age of 17 with nothing more than an elementary school education. Cadet D. fought to get his high school diploma, and continued that fight in the army, where he did everything he could to get into the elite Duvedevan Unit. His dream was to serve as a Duvedan officer – and that’s exactly what he’s doing today.

After he made aliyah, Cadet D. enrolled in an ulpan (Hebrew language school). He was soon approached by Acharai [‘follow me’], a social-educational organization that develops young leadership and promotes social involvement among youths from development towns and absorption centers. They offered to help him enlist in the IDF.  ”I joined the program to improve my Hebrew and to connect to people, and not necessarily because I wanted to enlist,” he recalls. “I really enjoyed it. We went on all kinds of hikes and I really connected to the whole idea of the army. It made me really want to enlist,” he says.

Cadet D. had postponed his enlistment to the army to complete his secondary education. After three years of study, he was finally able to start realizing his dream. When he began his military service, Cadet. D was assigned to the Michve Alon, a base for new immigrants which combines basic training and Hebrew language immersion.

“I was only at Michve Alon for three weeks,” Cadet D. says. “I already knew that I wanted to be a combat soldier. I requested to leave and and join the Paratroopers tryouts, and after I passed those, I was put on a brigade training base. I really wanted to go for the Duvdevan Unit tryouts, but at the beginning they wouldn’t allow me,” he says. “I insisted that they let me try, and after I fought for it they gave me permission. I had a go and I passed successfully.”

Even getting into Duvdevan wasn’t enough for Cadet D. After a short time in the unit, he did a paramedics course, and completed it with honors. “I learned so many things, but most importantly how to treat the injuries of my fellow soldiers in the unit. I really loved it,” he says. If that wasn’t enough, he also completed a physical instructors’ course with honors.

After the paramedics course, Cadet D. completed advanced training and began his service as a combat soldier. At Sukkot time last year, he was honored by the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, for extraordinary service as a combat medic, after saving the life of a member of his unit. “This is my mission and this is the reason I enlisted, so I don’t feel like I performed any kind of heroic act,” he says.

One thing missing

By this stage, Cadet D. felt like there was only one thing missing: he hadn’t yet fulfilled his dream to become an officer. “When I enlisted, they asked me where I wanted to serve. I said that I wanted to be an officer,” he says with a smile, and adds: “I love this country and I feel an obligation to contribute to the state. As an officer I would have a position from which to influence the Ethiopian community and society as a whole. To me personally this is really important.”

But for various reasons, Cadet D. was not allowed to go to officer’s school. A few weeks later, he was invited to a conference with Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, the head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate. Maj. Gen. Barbivai asked Cadet D. if there were any dreams he had not yet fulfilled. “I told her that the answer was yes – my dream was to be an officer,” he recalls. The general took an interest in Cadet D.’s case. “She made the point that I only had another four months until my release from the army. I said that it didn’t matter, that I still wanted to go to the officers’ course, and that if it was approved I wouldn’t think twice.”

Maj. Gen. Barbivai promised to examine the issue. The very next day, Cadet D.’s phone rang – it was the commander of his platoon on the line. “He told me to go to the enlistment center on the next Sunday for officer’s examinations,” Cadet D. says excitedly. “When they told me I passed the tests I did not believe it, and I even cried from all the excitement. I realized that now I had a mission and I had to fulfill it.”

The dream becomes a reality

Cadet D. did not simply accomplish this mission: he accomplished it with honors. During the course, he broke Training Base 1’s record for  the 10 kilometer run and was selected as a model officer during the training course.

It seems that excellence continues to accompany Cadet D. at every stage of his life, but he says that the journey is far more important for him than the result. “The goal is to do the best I can, to connect with people and to be a decent person,” he says. “If you have willpower, you can contribute to the country. There’s no such thing as ‘I can’t’ – that really means ‘I don’t want to’. I always tell my brothers and my friends – if you want to, you can achieve anything.”

And so, seven years after he immigrated to Israel, and nearly three years after his recruitment to the IDF, Cadet D. fulfilled his dream, and proudly received his officer’s pin. “I’m 24 and I chose to become an officer and serve more than four years, “he says. “If you have a dream, you can fulfill it, and if you never give up, you can achieve anything you want.”

Obama to Seek Congressional Approval for Syrian attack (Video)

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

The U.S. President Barack Obama, in a Rose Garden speech Saturday, presented a ‘powerful case’ that the Syrian government was behind a chemical weapons attack and, adding that he will seek approval from Congress to act against Syria.

Obama acknowledged that Americans are weary of war, but warned that there are costs to doing nothing in this case.

“We are prepared to strike whenever we choose,” he said.

IDF sources have told Kol Israel that they expect the American attack on Syria will start in the next few days. But that’s not going to happen, since Congress is not yet in session.

Congress is scheduled to reconvene Monday, Sept. 9, but media reports say they are considering returning early to debate action against Syria.

The same sources emphasize that Syria will not retaliate with an attack on Israel. Let’s hope their information is better on this one.

IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said on Thursday that should Israel be attacked, it is clear to all the world leaders that the cost to the Syrians would be heavy and the enemy losses would be painful and severe.

According to Lt. Gen. Gantz, Israeli citizens should feel free to continue safely with their daily routines and engage in preparation for the High Holidays.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon spoke on Friday with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who had just returned to Washington from a visit to Asia. Hagel has also spoken with France’s defense minister.

Israeli soldiers construct a military field camp near the border with Syria, Friday, on August 30, 2013. Photo credit: Gili Yaari/Fllash 90

Israeli soldiers construct a military field camp near the border with Syria, Friday, on August 30, 2013. Photo credit: Gili Yaari/Fllash 90

Fox News cites sources saying the U.S. attack in Syria will extend beyond Damascus, targeting and destroying President Bashar al-Assad’s delivery systems for his arsenal of chemical weapons.

The U.S. strike will spare the Assad presidential palace and Syrian government buildings, according to those sources. One of the reasons is that those facilities have long since been evacuated.

On Friday, President Barack Obama said he had not yet made a decision. But he said not reacting forcefully to a massive use of chemical weapons would be a danger to U.S. national security and a sign that the world was “paralyzed” in the face of mass killing.

“A lot of people think something should be done, but nobody wants to do it,” Obama said. He acknowledged, as he did again Saturday, that the world feels about a new war a “certain weariness, given Afghanistan,” but failed to mention Thursday’s parliamentary vote in Britain, which took that country’s army out of the equation.

And, to seal the deal, on Friday the White House released a four-page report saying U.S. intelligence had concluded with “high confidence,” based on intercepted communications, overhead surveillance, videos and witness statements, that Assad’s government had planned, authorized and carried out the August 21 nerve-gas attack near Damascus.

In a speech Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the gas attack killed at least 1,429 Syrians, 426 of them children.



IDF Chief of Staff Visits Auschwitz (Video)

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

The IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the son of Holocaust survivors, is leading a delegation to a Holocaust memorial at the site of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

Lt. Gen. Gantz left for Poland on Sunday, as Israel was preparing for the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day commemorations which begin Sunday night.

Lt. Gen. Gantz was welcomed in a military ceremony upon his arrival in Poland. He will later meet with Poland’s defense minister and chief of staff.

He will place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw.

Back in 2008, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said “there is no more reliable and loyal adherent of your stance and aspiration for a better and a fairer world order in the European Union than Poland.”

And in 2011, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “the Jewish people are an indelible part of Polish history, and Poland is an indelible part of Jewish history … Our deep bilateral cooperation is based on common values and a shared history, as well as on the aspiration to a common future in which we want to achieve the same goals.”

In light of those warm endorsements, it’s probably a good idea for Israeli military chiefs to keep visiting Auschwitz regularly.



Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/idf-chief-of-staff-to-visit-auschwitz/2013/04/07/

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