IDF Intelligence Chief: Israel's Next War Will See Heavy Casualties

In farewell meeting at the Knesset, Gen. Amos Yadlin says next conflict will hit Israel far harder than recent wars in Lebanon and Gaza - and hints for first the time at Israeli involvement in a 2007 strike on a nuclear plant in Syria.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

In a final meeting at the Knesset, outgoing Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin warned on Tuesday that Israel's next war would be fought on several fronts - causing far heavier damage and casualties than other recent conflicts.

Israel was currently enjoying a period of relative quiet, Yadlin said. But its enemies were rearming and now posed the greatest threat to the country since the 1970s. A new war would be far deadlier than Israel's last two, relatively short, conficts in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008-9.

Military Intelligence chief Amos YadlinCredit: Maya Levin / Jini

Speaking at the final meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting,a head of his imminent departure after for years as commander of army intelligence.

Syria, particularly, posed a greated military obstacle to Israel than at any time in the past three decades, Yadlin said, having amassed advanced Russian-built antiaircraft missiles that seriously limited the operational freedom of the Israel Air Force.

While Syria had failed to acquire Russian S-300 missiles, seen by Israel as the greatest potential threat to its aircraft, Damascus had improved its defense systems enough to push the military balance with Israel "back to the 1970s", Yadlin said.

In 1973, Israel came close to defeat by a suprise Syrian attack before eventually emerging victorious in the Yom Kippur War.

Yadlin also hinted at Israel's involvement in attacking a Syrian nuclear facility in September 2007. That strike has been widely attributed to Israel, but the government has never officially taken responsibility for the operation.

The veteran soldier, who turns 60 next year, told the committee that during his position as MI chief he had contended with two enemy nuclear programs - apparently a reference to Iran and Syria.

"I've seen three defense ministers, two chiefs of staff and two prime ministers come and go, I've been through two wars and I've contended with two nuclear programs of enemy states," Yadlin said, summing up the last years of his career.

"I headed a group of thousands of people working 24 hours a day to collect information that the enemy was not volunteering, information that had to be extracted from difficult places," he added.

Yadlin also warned of a growing threat from the Iranian nuclear program, saying Iran now had enough highly enriched uranium to build a bomb.

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