IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi warned Israelis on Wednesday of a possible confrontation with Iran and said that Israelis must be mentally prepared and show national resilience.
In an hour-long speech on Israel’s national security at a conference in memory of former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Kochavi said that “there’s a possibility of having a limited confrontation – or more than that – with Iran. It would be better if we weren’t the only ones [to face Iran]. This is the reality at this time. We intend to continue acting against Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and Iraq.”
“This isn’t a war of a day or two. I can’t promise brief wars. We’ll need national resilience. It’s important that our enemies see that our people are strong and resilient.”
“Iran’s policy has become more offensive – first and foremost against the Gulf states. There’s no deterrence, no response and no retaliation. Iran has changed its policy toward us but we’re responding and we’ll continue to respond.”
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“The warheads and ranges of missiles and rockets are increasing and the enemy firepower will be more intense in the next war. We have to recognize and prepare for this – mentally as well. They plan on shooting missiles on built-up areas.”
“Iran is producing precision-guided missiles that can reach Israel,” Kochavi said, adding that Iran could launch these missiles themselves or use their proxies to do so – Quds forces and Hezbollah.” Kochavi emphasized that precision-guided missiles are a threat that Israel would go to war to prevent, saying that “we won’t allow our enemies to acquire precision weapons.”
Kochavi noted that Hezbollah has increased its power and capabilities and now has anti-aircraft weapons and electronic warfare equipment. “In Syria, there’s Hezbollah and Quds forces as well as the Syrian army and there are also proxies of Iran in Gaza, in addition to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.”
Kochavi added that the threats from all of Israel’s enemies have increased and all fronts are active, saying that there have been immediate threats to Israel in the past few months on all fronts. “We’re working hard to precede and surprise the enemy,” he said.
Kochavi mentioned Iraq’s ongoing civil war as a concern, which is turning the country into a lawless area, allowing Iran’s Quds Forces to smuggle advanced weaponry into the country. “Israel cannot allow this,” he said, adding that “weapons are being transferred from Iraq into Syria and from Iran into the Gaza Strip.”
In reference to the Gaza Strip, Kochavi said: “I recognize an opportunity in Gaza. Hamas wants to improve the welfare of the people in Gaza. We had a stable summer with a few fires. Hamas strongly desires that the situation doesn’t deteriorate further. The one who interfered with this was [Islamic Jihad leader] Baha Abu a-Ata who incited war. He carried out 99% of the attacks in the past year. Hamas wouldn’t oppose him so we did it.”
“Hamas has returned to dictating the agenda,” Kochavi said, adding that Israel is in the process of negotiating a ceasefire with the help of Egypt, in which Israel will allow civilian relief in the Gaza Strip for significant security improvements.
However, if the ceasefire is not successful, Kochavi said that Israel is prepared to go to war against the terror organizations in Gaza.
“In the next war, we’ll forcefully attack the urban area from which the enemy launches thousands of missiles and rockets. We’ll act with great precision in contrast to the enemy which does everything in order to attack civilians. We’ll warn the population, allow it to evacuate and then attack the civil infrastructure which hosts terror organizations – water, gas, electricity and roads.”
Kochavi stressed that “countries that enable terrorist organizations must realize that they will be held responsible.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)