'IDF will be forced to attack Gaza if rockets resume'

IDF chief Gantz: Israel must take initiative in the next round of fighting, says Egypt border fence to be completed by end of 2012.

November 15, 2011 13:31
3 minute read.
IDF chief of General Staff Benny Gantz [file]

Benny Gantz 311. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)

If rockets continue being fired from Gaza the IDF will launch an offensive attack, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday.

“There’s one round after another [of rocket fire],” Gantz said. “In the end, we’ll have to launch a wider offensive in Gaza. The IDF must initiate this move.”

He added that such an offensive should be limited.

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“As far as Israel is concerned, if there is fighting it should be for the shortest amount of time possible, using accurate intelligence, force and continuity,” he said. “We hope not to get to a point where every few months we have a new round of fighting.”

According to Gantz, the IDF recently destroyed a terrorist cell in Rafah that was experimenting with different types of advanced rockets with ranges of up to dozens of kilometers.

Gantz also discussed IDF actions following the cross-border terrorist attack near Eilat in August, saying the army had “failed” in dealing with that incident.

“We didn’t think an attack would happen in daytime only 200 meters from an Egyptian post,” he stated. “The [defense posture on the] western border between Israel and Egypt has changed from one that is prepared to deal with infiltrators to one prepared to deal with terror in light of the fact that Sinai has become an area with a wide terrorist infrastructure coming from Gaza and global jihad, in defiance of Egyptian sovereignty.”

Gantz added that there was now an additional reinforced brigade headquarters on the border, and “we are improving our ability to gather intelligence in the area.”

Over 70 kilometers of the barrier at the Egyptian border have already been built, and 30 contractors with 400 construction workers are continuing to build at an accelerated place.

Gantz said he had issued orders for the barrier to be completed by the end of 2012.

Once the IDF finishes that barrier, it will construct a similar one in the southern part of the border with Jordan.

In reference to Gilad Schalit, Gantz explained that the IDF lacked sufficient intelligence to undertake an operation to free the captive soldier.

“We had no choice but to go through with a deal,” he explained. “The possibility of capture still exists. On the other hand, we cannot give up our operative capabilities in order to prevent this danger.”

The chief of General Staff said that Schalit “isn’t a hero in the sense that we usually hear about in the IDF, but I value his ability to [survive] in captivity for so long.” He was referring to comments by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan that Schalit was not a hero.

Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) said that an “intelligence failure” was the reason the IDF could not bring Schalit back to Israel.

“Recent years have proven that there is an intelligence problem in Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula,” he said.

Mofaz also said it was important to find ways to reduce the defense budget without weakening the IDF, and announced that his committee had hired impartial consultants to research the matter.

“There have been defense budget cuts in the past,” Gantz said, “but unlike then, today the strategic reality is becoming much more complicated.”

“The IDF’s flexibility in this matter is almost non-existent...

we cannot in any way decrease our preparedness.”

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