"The best way to deal with [the Iranian nuclear threat] is sanctions, but if [these don't work], Israel has the right to defend itself, and all means can be used to achieve this," IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told Army Radio in a question and answer session on Monday afternoon.
Ashkenazi said a nuclear-armed Iran would be a "threat to the whole world." When asked what his recommendation would be if the political echelon asked to consult him on a military strike, Ashkenazi refused to answer.
He said that the IDF has been generally undergoing significant improvements since the Second Lebanon War.
"Since the Second Lebanon War, we have done an all encompassing review of the possibility we may need to fight again in the North. We understand what we need to do next time and the IDF has the answer. It is a strong and high quality military, and I trust it," Ashkenazi said.
Referring to the recently published report penned by a UN commission headed by South African former judge Richard Goldstone which criticized the IDF and accused Israel of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead, Ashkenazi said the report was "biased and unbalanced."
"As someone who planned this operation, I want to say here: we did all we could to minimize harm to civilians. If Hamas met us in open fields, we would engage it there. We used the media, posters, phone calls and other means to warn civilians against giving cover to Hamas operatives. But when we had to take out a cell aiming a Grad rocket at Ashkelon we took it out, not hesitating to act [if the cell was hiding amongst civilians]."
Ashkenazi added that the internal reviews continuously carried out by the IDF were not dependent on external reports. "We want our camp to be pure not because of this or that report but because it's important to us."
He said the military continues to inquire about incidents from the operation, also registering complaints by Palestinians. "I regret to say there were isolated incidents" where soldiers acted immorally, "but we are dealing with these."
Ashkenazi mentioned as examples a complaint registered by a Palestinian who said his credit card was stolen, and added that the soldier who stole the card was found and harshly punished.
"The IDF was working in a multi-layered, complex theater and we can be proud of our achievements," he said.
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