IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz warned of the growing security challenges facing Israel at the annual Herzliya Conference.
Gantz argued that the Syrian civil war, which has now entered its fourth year, poses a serious threat to Israel. According to Israeli intelligence, Gantz revealed that Russia is arming the Syrian army under the control of President Bashar Assad.
According to Gantz, rule of law in Syria “is crashing like a house of cards. As long as Assad is there, we won’t see a meaningful solution because they [the rebels are fighting against him and not for the future.”
The chief of staff warned of two major dangers Israel faces from the Syrian conflict. The first is Assad’s strengthening relationship with radical Iran and Hezbollah. The second is the ever increasing, far reaching Global Jihad Islamist terror movement.
Hezbollah, which threatens Israel from the north in Lebanon, has aligned itself with Iran, a global sponsor of terrorist. Estimating Hezbollah’s strength, Gantz said “there are maybe four or five countries (in the region) with more fire power than Hezbollah. They have a tremendous fire power which covers all of Israel.”
“In Israel you can be drinking coffee at nine in the morning, and by four in the afternoon be at war,” warned Gantz.
Touching upon Iran’s nuclear program, Gantz made clear that Israel would not stand idly by should Iran continue to seek nuclear weapons.
“It’s possible to earnestly prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon – by force or not by force…It’s preferable without force, but if there is no choice it is possible by force. The main thing is that they don’t reach the nuclear threshold,” he stated.
Gantz believes that the Islamic Republic, which is currently engaged in nuclear talks in Geneva with world powers, is putting on a façade and is not sincere in giving up its nuclear ambitions.
“Iran will try to preserve its abilities to restore its nuclear program in the future, and to advance it. It couldn’t ignore the voice on the street (of the Iranian public), so it was forced to open dialogue with the international community while not giving up on its vision,” Gantz argued.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei echoed these same sentiments in January when he called nuclear talks “stupid and idiotic” and confirmed that Iran was merely stalling for time.