Gantz: 2012 will be a critical year regarding Iran

Chief of Staff says there may be more "unnatural" events in Iran, says Israel will house Alawite refugees when Assad falls.

IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz_311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz_311
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz said Tuesday that 2012 would be a critical year regarding Iran and that there may be more "unnatural" events that happen to them.
Speaking at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Gantz warned that "2012 will be a critical year in the connection between Iran gaining nuclear power, changes in leadership, continuing pressure from the international community and events that happen unnaturally."
RELATED:'Senior UN nuclear inspectors expected to visit Iran soon'Analysis: Feeling out Gantz on IranEx-adviser: Obama ready to strike to stop Iran
Gantz said that recent international pressure on Tehran was influencing the leadership but this does not necessarily mean that the leadership will decide to give up on the military's nuclear plans.
Highlighting regional concern over Tehran, Gantz said that Turkey was especially disturbed by the continuing nuclear development in Iran.
Speaking just hours after Syrian President Bashar Assad gave a speech about the protests against him, Gantz said that the Syrian leader would not be able to hold onto his rule for much longer.
"On the day that the regime falls, it is expected to result in a blow to the Alawite sect. We are preparing to take in Alawite refugees on the Golan Heights," Gantz said.
He said that in the short term, the events in Syria will make it difficult for Assad and the Syrian leadership to act against Israel.
However, Gantz warned that at the same time the weapons systems in Syria exist and are being well maintained.
He highlighted that Syria has advanced Russian weapons including SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which challenge the IAF's upper hand.
Gantz went on to say that the threat from Lebanon towards Israel has grown in recent years, and is five times bigger now than it was in the past. He also warned that strategic weapons could be transferred from Syria to Hezbollah and that the terror group had weapons warehouses in Syria.
On the relative calm along the Gaza border, Gantz said "we cannot be fooled by this." He vowed to act to thwart any terror attack that stemmed from Gaza, while he warned that terrorists there were continuing to grow stronger.