'Now we realize what IDF had to counter'

Now we realize what IDF

Natynczyk  in Israel 248.88 (photo credit: IDF)
Natynczyk in Israel 248.88
(photo credit: IDF)
"I'm not sure if the Israeli standpoint is that much different than the Canadian standpoint, having had the experience in Afghanistan," said Canadian Armed Forces Chief of the Defense Staff, General Walter J. Natynczyk, in a Tuesday interview to the IDF journal Bamahane. The general's three-day visit to Israel - his first official tour here since he began his tenure as head of Canada's military in 2008 - concluded on Tuesday. Natynczyk was commenting on the Goldstone report, which sharply criticized IDF tactics employed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last winter, saying he wished to read the report in order to understand whether the document took into account the complexities of the reality in which Israel had operated and the methods used by the enemy it was battling. "I've got to look through the whole report and read it through myself. But I fully understand how when someone is attacked from houses, family houses, and so on, that there is a responsibility to protect oneself and protect civilians," Natynczyk said. "I have just had a great education in terms of where weapons were fired from and so on. I want to look at the report in terms of how does it describe it… My impression of the Gaza Strip up to now has been through media reports. Now I got to actually see the size, the space, the context… It just puts into perspective many of the reports and also the operations that were conducted before." Natynczyk arrived in Israel on Sunday for a work visit as guest of the IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt. -Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. Over the course of the visit, he held meetings with Ashkenazi, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and toured the country. Natyniczyk toured the skies of Israel by helicopter, and visited both the Northern Command and the Southern Command. In the North, the general visited the Galilee Division and the Israeli northern community of Mizpe Benaya. He also observed Israel's border area with Syria and Lebanon while being briefed by senior Northern Command officers regarding Israel's relations with the two neighboring countries. The general also visited the IDF Southern Command and the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration in Erez, and was briefed regarding Operation Cast Lead as well as the various weapons systems used by IDF forces in their routine activities. Towards the end of his visit, Natynczyk toured the Tel-Nof Air force Base in central Israel, where seniors in the Ministry of Defense Administration for weaponry research and Technology Development presented him with newly developed Israeli technologies. The general stated that the Canadian military has "really come to understand and appreciate what the Israeli forces have had to counter for quite some time," adding that he now saw in a new light "the techniques, the way and the procedures that the Israeli military has adopted and evolved over the past few decades." Natynczyk related the similarities between what is required of Israel and what is required of his country as part of its battle against terror. "We're learning what can we adopt from Israeli forces that will enable us to reduce risks to our people," he concluded.