IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz 370.
(photo credit: Assaf Shilo - Israel Sun)
Tehran is the main focus of the IDF’s activities, and will continue to be so in
the foreseeable future, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said on
Monday at a security conference in Tel Aviv.
“Iran must be pressured on
its nuclear program and global terrorist activities. The focus of our
activities in the coming future, and in general, will be Iran,” Gantz said at
the conference, held by he Institute for National Security.
Republic is continuing to “exploit ongoing dialogue to carry out strategic
activity” linked to its military nuclear program, the chief of staff said.
However, he added, sanctions and international isolation were having a big
effect on Tehran, and may yet cause it to decide to change its
“Iran is striving for regional hegemony. In all of the places it is
involved, the implications of its capabilities are far wider than something
local or regional,” Gantz stated.
Turning his attention to Syria, he said
the country was marked by growing instability in areas where Basher Assad once
“Iran and Hezbollah are involved up to their neck – and higher –
in” attempts to safeguard the Syrian regime, while also preparing for a
post-Assad future, Gantz said.
“Strangely, there is Russian support for
Assad,” he added.
Noting that some Israeli observers are describing Syria
as the new and local Afghanistan, Gantz warned that strategic weapons in the
country could fall into the wrong hands.
“We’re not waiting for this
future to arrive. We’ve been preparing for it operationally for over a year,
throughout the whole of the Golan Heights,” he said.
Hezbollah is growing stronger militarily, yet remains deterred by Israel due to
the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and Operation Pillar of
Defense last year, Gantz argued, adding that the terrorist organization is
concerned by the weakening Tehran- Damascus-Beirut axis, and is subject to
domestic Lebanese pressure. Nevertheless, it is trying to assist Assad as much
as it can, while trying to take hold of weapons and preparing itself for the
future, he said.
Turning to Gaza, Gantz said that Hamas remains deterred
by Israel, and is not interested in losing control of the Strip.
it’s not the only player. Other terrorist organizations are operating from
there. Hamas is trying to restrain them, not always successfully. We of course
cannot agree that the reality in Gaza will go back to what it was before
Operation Pillar of Defense,” he said, referring to frequent rocket attacks on
Israeli civilians and border attacks on military patrols.
as much as possible to act wisely between the pedals of responding and not
responding. [But] if it won’t be quiet, we can strengthen our deterrence, or
take more dramatic steps than the steps we took until now. I hope it’s not
needed, but if it is, we won’t hesitate to activate force in this area,” Gantz
The IDF does not see an initiative by Israel’s enemies to launch
a war against it at this time, but every arena is very sensitive, and the
potential for a deterioration that can trigger a war is something the army is
preparing itself for, he added.
The military is working on increasing the
accuracy of its firepower, improving its operational flexibility and
strengthening its ability to fight simultaneously on multiple fronts, Gantz
said, with one of the central aims being the ability to deal a decisive blow to
the enemy and keep rounds of conflicts short.