Israel won’t “allow anyone to disrupt the lives” of its citizens, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon cautioned on Monday, in response to a number of recent rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip carried out by an al-Qaida-affiliated organization.
Ya’alon spoke at an awards ceremony held for reserves units at the residence of President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem also attended by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.
Ya’alon said that “in recent days we received another reminder about the complexity of the situation in the Gaza Strip, a hostile entity controlled by a murderous terrorist organization, Hamas, which is also challenged by terror gangs affiliated to the global jihad.”
Faced with this situation, Israel is pursuing a “determined and decisive policy, but also one that is measured and responsible,” Ya’alon said.
Israel struck Gazan terrorist organizations hard last summer during Operation Protective Edge, and “if we are required to, and we are continued to be challenged, we will not hesitate to act with similar force in the future,” Ya’alon said.
He warned that Israel will not tolerate fire on its cities and communities, and told terrorist organizations to “refrain from continuing to test us, as just last summer we proved our ability to strike Gazan terrorist organizations in an unprecedented manner. We will not be tolerant toward attempts to challenge us.”
Addressing the reservists who received awards for excellence, Ya’alon said, “You, the commanders and your units, will be part of any war in the future, and our responsibility as the leadership is to make sure you are ready for any scenario.”
The defense minister said the IDF has in recent months returned to a full training program after previous budget shortfalls had been overcome “with the intervention of the prime minister and a budgetary addition that the [defense] establishment received.”
Reserve and conscripted units are currently in training, and this will continue in the future, Ya’alon said. “If we want a military strike force that is quality and effective, which will, together with conscripted forces, strike the enemy, we must train and prepare every day of the year,” Ya’alon said. “Operation Protective Edge proved how vital and important you are, and we must ensure that you come to the next war prepared.”
Addressing regional instability, the defense minister said, “The Middle East, which is experiencing unprecedented changes, demands of us to be ready.
From North to South, along the borders, and far from them, terrorist organizations operate, and some of them are trained, funded, and armed by the relentless bloody regime in Tehran.”
Meanwhile, a senior IDF general addressed the problem of terrorist tunnels yesterday, declaring at the 15th Annual Herzliya Conference that the IDF is poised to meet the challenge.
Addressing a panel under the banner of “Israel in a turbulent Middle East,” Maj.-Gen. Nimrod Shefer, head of the IDF’s Planning Branch, said the “technology is in our hands. In the same way that we cracked the challenge of intercepting rockets in mid-flight, we will crack the challenge of underground tunnels. I’m convinced that this is in our hands,” he said.
The IDF has begun deploying components of a new hi-tech underground tunnel detection system in the south near the border with Gaza. The system is still at an early stage, and it is incomplete.
But it can detect tunnels.
Shefer said it is vital to ensure that the IDF develops a sound ground offensive capability that will provide victory on the battlefield. Flexibility, training, an awareness of the importance of ground operations, and being qualified for the missions are the key components of meeting this challenge, he said. “This will come before everything else,” the officer stated.
Israeli air superiority remains paramount for the ability to deal with short-range and long-range arenas, he added.
While the nuclear threat remains the largest to Israeli security, conventional offensive capabilities that are mostly in the possession of non-state organizations exist in the threat level below the nuclear issue, he said.
Shefer cited an “unprecedented” build-up of Hezbollah’s rocket arsenals and underground tunneling capabilities by Hamas. The chemical weapon threat from Syria has disappeared, he said earlier in his address.
“The IDF has to be relevant and always ready,” Shefer concluded. A multi-year spending program being drawn up by IDF brass aims to realize that vision, he added.