IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi said on Wednesday that Iran’s Quds Force is delivering advanced weapons through Iraq on a monthly basis.
“This cannot be happening without the command’s supervision,” he said.
Speaking at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya conference in memory of late Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Kochavi explained that the weapons’ transfer is possible because ” a civil war is raging in Iraq, with Quds forces operating there on a daily basis, while the country itself has become a no man’s land.”
Kochavi said that “all the arenas are active today. In recent months there hasn’t been even one arena where at least two urgent alerts needed to be addressed, some of them in a way that was visible to you and to anyone who is aware of security matters, and some hidden from view. Others faded on their own.” In fact, Kochavi added, “not only are all the arenas active, but some new arenas have been added.”
“We are making a great effort, visible and covert, to prevent our enemies from arming themselves with accurate weapons, even at the cost of a confrontation,” the chief of staff reported, adding that “Iran, despite the nuclear program’s restrictions, continues to produce missiles that are capable of reaching our territory, and it has doubled the amount of enriched uranium it possesses.”
In his view, “If there will be no response to the expansion of the Iranian nuclear program, at some point it will move out of the realm of a mere strategic dialogue and transform into a real capability, meaning that between now and a few months from now they could put together a nuclear bomb. ”
Kochavi, 55, became Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces on January 15. He was the commander of the Gaza Division during the Gush Katif unilateral disengagement, and the head of the Northern Command. Between November 2010 and September 2014, he served as the Military Intelligence Director. He is vegan, married, and the father of three daughters.
Kochavi told the IDC conference that Iran has changed its policy over the past year, and began offensive operations, especially against the Gulf states, noting that “there has been no response, no counter-activity, no retaliation and no deterrence against the actions the Iranians are taking.”
Kochavi said that Iran has also changed its policy towards Israel, except that “we are responding and will continue to respond.”
“We understand that the possibility of a limited or even worse confrontation with Iran is not unreasonable,” he said, and suggested that “it would have been better if we were not the only ones acting against them aggressively. We intend to continue this activity, we will not allow Iran to be based on our northern border at all, and not even in Iraq, as I mentioned, with all the expected implications.”
Kochavi referred to the possibility of a future war “in the north or against Hamas,” stressing that “war is our last resort.”
Kochavi envisions that in the next war “the intensity of fire on the home front will be great,” and says “civil authorities need to prepare for them, and mentally as well. A very large proportion of the missiles and rockets at the moment are statistical, they won’t hit exactly where the enemy is planning, but since they plan to shoot them at open areas and in the central cities, then yes, it will have an impact and will inflict damage.”
Israel is preparing for the fired rockets “in many different ways,” he said. Among other things, “in the next war, we will attack the urban space intensely. The enemy chose to settle there and from there they will fire thousands of missiles at Israel. Unlike the enemy, which is targeting civilians, we will attack in an intelligence-based manner. We will warn them, allow them to evacuate, and immediately afterwards we will attack with great force.”
“The state that hosts the terrorist organizations bears the responsibility for their actions. The responsibility is with the Lebanese government, with Hamas, and with Syria,” Kochavi said.