NEW YORK – V.-Adm. (res.) Eliezer (Chiney) Marom, commander of Israel’s navy between 2007 and 2011, said Sunday that Iran was the greatest danger in the Middle East and the IDF had developed a military and intelligence structure over the past 10 to 15 years to adapt to a changing region.
“Iran is leading the [weapons] smuggling industry in the Middle East,” Marom told participants at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York. “Iran is a very, very dangerous country.”
Marom added that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “smiles at your face and lies” while his country continues to build its nuclear weapons program.
Israel’s interception in May of the Iranian ship Klos C in the southern Red Sea was cited by Marom as a sign of Israel’s rapid response and highly developed intelligence structure.
The vessel carried Syrian-manufactured rockets. The interception took place 1,500 km.
from Israel and exposed a “war between wars,” Marom said. He called it an “ongoing secret war between Israel and terrorist organizations and the evil axis led by Iran.”
The ex-navy chief stressed that the greatest threat to Israel were rocket arsenals maintained by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in both Lebanon and Syria. The rockets, he said, are “directed at civilian targets in [the heartland] of Israel,” adding that “Hezbollah has 100,000 rockets. Hamas in Gaza holds several thousand rockets, some of which are long-range.”
He said Israel’s responding strikes were “always” very precise, something that avoids escalation that could lead to a war.
With respect to the civil war in Syria, Marom said: “We hope those rockets will not be in hands of jihadis fighting in Syria. It is a possibility that jihadis will take over and lead Syria.”
He added that Syria and terrorist organizations realize they cannot wipe out or invade Israel, but do threaten Israel with thousands of rockets, including “long-range missiles with chemical weapons.”
Intense US-Israeli military and intelligence cooperation was praised by Marom.
“I can never imagine better relations than when I was commander of the navy. I had an open line to the chief of United States Navy,” he said.