Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz warned Monday that Israel must consider actions, not declarations, when assessing the conflicts in the Middle East.
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“In an area characterized by so much uncertainty, we must be sure that we are conducting ourselves in light of actions, not just declarations," Gantz said. "In other words, what counts is action, not just fancy words. This is the nature of the situation with regard to the end of the [Bashar] Assad period [in Syria] and with regard to the possibility that Iran will halt its nuclear development program.”
He was speaking at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, a non-partisan and independent institute affiliated with the political science department at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan.
Lt. Gen. Gantz said the removal of chemical weapons from Syria and the possibility of diplomatic talks that could bring about a deal with the Iranians are positive signals, if they are realized. He also listed additional processes in the Middle East that could have a similar impact: the possibility of a peace settlement with the Palestinian Authority, the influence of Egyptian measures against smugglers, and the degree to which the Lebanese government proves successful in its efforts to increase control over its own territory.
The chief of staff devoted much of his lecture to the attempts to assess the nature of the next war and to the threats the Israel Defense Forces will have to deal with in 2025. “The enemy’s capabilities are just around the corner,” he noted. “These organizations [i.e., the terrorist groups and the global jihad movement] have capabilities that many states do not have. Hezbollah has a capacity that many states do not have – in terms of scope, power, quality and accuracy.”
Referring to this threat, Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan, who also spoke at the conference, said he saw an urgent need for totally new thinking on deterrence: “Even the Israel Defense Forces' most optimistic scenarios estimate that, if thousands of missiles are launched at Israel in a single day, no active defense system will be capable of dealing with all the missiles simultaneously and, in the final analysis, a very large number of missiles will fall here on the civilian home front.”
According to figures presented by the home front minister, some 650,000 homes in Israel are not properly protected for emergency situations.