Nehushtan to ‘Post:’ IAF ready for threats, including Iran

Former commander of IAF comes out strongly against public discussion regarding strike on Iran; says Israel's air superiority in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Sinai threatened by proliferation of surface-to-air missile systems.

Ido Nehushtan 370 (photo credit: Adi AvishaiMarc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Ido Nehushtan 370
(photo credit: Adi AvishaiMarc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Israel Air Force is prepared for the many missions and threats it faces in the Middle East, including a possible operation against Iran’s nuclear facilities, outgoing OC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan has told The Jerusalem Post.
The exclusive interview, which will appear in Friday’s Magazine, was conducted with Nehushtan – who has led the IAF for the past four years – just days before he handed over command to Maj.- Gen. Amir Eshel.
“I understand the missions that stand before the IAF, and we have done everything we can during this period to create capabilities so we can fulfill these missions,” he said in response to a question of whether the air force was capable of dealing with the Iranian threat. “In general, the IAF is prepared for all of these missions.”
Nehushtan came out strongly during the interview against the ongoing public discussion regarding a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, saying it lacked “basic facts.”
The Israeli media has been flooded with interviews and reports in recent months regarding a possible strike.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, for example, said in a series of interviews published on Independence Day that Israel had prepared a viable military option to attack the Islamic Republic.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has spoken many times about the need for the right timing for such a strike, while former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin have warned of the consequences of such an operation.
“I think that in this specific issue [Iran] we should not talk,” Nehushtan said. “I say this with all of the responsibility it entails. I think that a public discourse on this issue is lacking the basic facts needed to hold it and I think that it should not be held in this way.”
As an example, he brought Israel’s bombing of the Osirak reactor in Iraq in 1981.
“The Iraqi thing was known for years before the reactor was attacked. It was known but it did not turn into a public discussion and that should be the case here as well,” he said.
During the interview, Nehushtan warned that Israel’s air superiority was increasingly undermined by the proliferation of sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems throughout the region – in Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula.
“The IAF needs to be ready to fly in places where there is a threat to its superiority,” he said “This is the case already now and therefore when we approach a front like Lebanon or Gaza we will first look at the intelligence, then study the threats and then think about the best way to carry out our missions.”