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Israeli Commander - Israel is Super Ready for Iran

Chief Of Staff Benny Gantz: 'Israel Defense Forces Are Super Ready For Iran & Other Potential Threats From Current Upheaval In Middle East'

'Iran Is Bent On Acquiring Nuclear Weapons But Has Yet To Decide On Crossing Nuclear Threshold Because Of Its Strategic Considerations'

'Outcome Of Syria's Internal Struggle Will Pose Lose-lose Situation For Israel & Instability Along Israel's Border On the Golan Heights'

Benny Ganz, IDF Chief of General Staff

 In advance of new nuclear talks with Iran, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has assessed the current range of threats now facing Israel. With the 'Arab Spring' raging in Egypt and elsewhere, the probability of a planned war against Israel was low. But on the other hand, the Arab Street was 'very volatile' and could spark a spontaneous flare-up. First and foremost there was Iran's drive for nuclear weapons and although Syria was rent by internal strife, Syria's military capabilities have not been downgraded. Analyst David Essing reports on the closed door briefing of Israel's top soldier to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

 'Super ready' that was how Gen. Benny Gantz depicted the IDF's state of preparedness in light of Iran's drive for nuclear weapons, the meltdown in Syria and an uncertain election in Egypt. Israel's top commander had to be ready to cope with threats on various fronts.

First there's Iran: The Iranians are striving to get their hands on nuclear weapons but they had still not crossed the threshold and broken out for the bomb. Why not? For their own strategic considerations - today Iran is facing more severe sanctions and there is the military threat posed by Israel and the U.S. In any case, Gen. Gantz said he had full confidence in the Israel Air Force and the IDF Intelligence Branch. He criticized what he called 'a lot of loose talk in the public dialogue on whether Israel should go it alone and attack Iran'. In a clear reference to former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, Gen. Gantz cracked: 'In the past, some people knew the facts, that doesn't mean they know them today. In fact, only a very few people now know what Israel is capable of and what it is not. Any professional discussion should be conducted inside the appropriate forums. In any case only the Iranians could decide whether or not they will give up their nuclear program and we must be ready'.

Benny Ganz

Less than twenty-four hours earlier, Meir Dagan had again warned Israel against going it alone against Iran at this time. He told students at Be'er Sheva University that no one asks: 'What will happen after such an Israeli strike? Five minutes later we will find ourselves in a regional war. Iran will react, Hezbollah in south Lebanon will react, so will the Palestinian terror organizations in Gaza, and even President Assad, who is in the middle of his own war for survival, will react'. Having said that, Dagan explained that he did not reject an Israeli attack out of hand but it should be launched only as the last possible resort.

Syria: Whether President Bashar Assad prevailed or was ousted by the rebel opposition, it would still be a 'lose-lose situation' for Israel. Gen. Gantz was betting on the rebels. If they toppled Assad, it would deal a severe blow to Syria's radical Shitte axis with Iran and Hezbollah. But a new revolutionary regime would lead to a period of instability that would be manifested in a alck of quiet along the Syrian-Israeli border on the Golan Heights. On the other hand, if Assad survived, his regime would be weakened and that would also create instability on the Golan Heights. Meanwhile, Israel was worried about Syria losing control of it's 'strategic weapons systems' (chemical weapons & missiles). Worth noting - earlier on in the rebellion, Assad tried to deflect attention to Israel by warning of the 'Israeli threat'. However Israel reportedly conveyed a quiet diplomatic message to Assad warning him that if he dared provoke Israel, it would spell the end of his regime'. Although an estimated 12,000 soldiers and officers have deserted the Syrian army, the IDF believes the Syrian Army's capability has not been downgraded. In neighboring Lebanon, Hezbollah was very worried that Assad might be toppled. On this score, the IDF had detected Hezbollah and Iranian forces operating inside Syria trying to shore up the Assad regime.

Gaza: Islamic Jihad, the most closely Iranian-aligned terror group, was posing now a serious challenge to the ruling Hamas regime. Meanwhile the Moslem Brothers in Egypt, now on the ascendant, were seeing eye-to-eye with their ideological brethern, Hamas. The IDF had clobbered Hamas in the last flare-up and was now regrouping. By and large, the Palestinians are converting Sinai into their operational backyard for terror attacks against Israel. Until Israel completes the construction of a border fence Sinai was expected to be a source of danger.

Egypt: In short, the contest is now 'between the perpetrators of the revolution and the thieves of the revolution'. While the future of Israel and Egypt may now be in doubt, Gen. Gantz stressed the importance of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and the need to preerve it.

Ultra-Orthodox IDF Exemptions: The Chief of Staff criticized the political horse-trading that has resulted in over 50,000 ultra-orthodox evading IDF military service during the past eight years. During that period only 1,250 ultra-orthodox, eligble for service, had joined the IDF. Ten years ago, politicians in the Knesset passed the Tal law that enables Yeshiva students to choose whether to study in Yeshiva or to serve in the Israeli army. This is compulsory conscription of three years for every one else, except for Arabs and special cases. The Chief of Staff told committee that IDF service should be obligatory for one and all. The IDF would get first call for who it wanted to recruit and those it deemed unsuitable should be required to do civilian service of one kind or another. Gen. Gantz said that military of ultra-orthodox young men would make a significant contribution to Israel's national defense. This issue is being hotly debated in Israel after the Supreme Court ruled against permitting ultra-orthodox Jews to choose whether they wanted to serve in the IDF.

David Essing

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