In interview with Israel Radio, IDF chief of staff says Israel is ready for escalation on all fronts, including Syria, Lebanon.
By JPOST.COM STAFF
The IDF has the ability to attack the Iranian nuclear sites without help from other nations, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz told Israel Radio in a lengthy interview aired Tuesday.When asked if the IDF has the capabilities to attack alone in Iran, Gantz answered "unequivocally, yes.""The Iranian challenge is a meaningful one. We must look at it strategically long-term. We will do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done," he said.Gantz told Israel Radio that the top political and military officials discussed a possible strike in Iran, but denied reports that there were arguments on the topic. "There are long, continuous discussions, and I presume we'll have more of those in the future."On the northern front, Gantz assured that the IDF is ready for a possible military confrontation with Syria and with Lebanon. "We are ready, at any given time, and in an immediate manner, for a war with Syria, both on the defense and on the offense. I don't see it happening tomorrow morning, but despite that we are ready."On the southern front, Gantz discussed the achievements of Operation Pillar of Defense last November, saying the relative quiet that has been maintained since the ceasefire agreement with Hamas at the end of the Operation is a testament to the deterrence Israel established."There were several isolated incidents lately that were made to appear more prominent because of the relative quiet, and rightfully so. We have no intention to go back to the situation that was before Pillar of Defense. If this quiet continues [and no rockets are fired], there will be quiet in the Gaza Strip. If the quiet does not continue, there will be no quiet in the Gaza Strip and it will be very painful [for the Hamas leadership] and we will not be afraid to resume our operations in the Strip and even extend them," he said."We must not forget that the Hamas holds full and direct responsibility to everything that happens in the Gaza Strip. If rockets are fired from [the Strip], it's either because Hamas allows it or because it doesn't control the Strip. It is [Hamas'] responsibility and we will demand that of it," he added.The chief of staff also said the situation in the West Bank is not as grave as it was prior to the outburst of the first and second intifada, and asserted he does not think a third intifada is currently on the horizon. Regardless, Gantz assured that the IDF is ready for any possible escalation.Gantz also spoke at length about the enlistment of haredim into army service, asserting that "in principle, any citizen needs to serve their country" and promising the process will be "gradually, evolving."The chief of staff also stressed that the IDF needs any offered manpower to maintain the level of preparedness of its soldiers and its reserve soldiers."There are more fronts, more challenges. We need to be able to perform operational duty, as well as be in the required level of readiness for any possible escalation. We also need to allow our reserve soldiers to drill as required and not just do operational duties. The more manpower we have, our response on a day-to-day basis will be better," he explained.