IDF Chief: Hezbollah Knows Fighting Israel Would Set It Back Decades

Addressing the annual Herzliya Conference, IDF chief Benny Gantz warns against the 'dramatic instability' in the Mideast.

Tomer Appelbaum

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz told the annual Herzliya Conference on Monday that Hezbollah knows conflict with Israel would "set it back decades."

Gantz said he was sure Israel would face Hezbollah either in "direct combat" or in broader-scope fighting inside Lebanon, but added that "Hezbollah is deterred."

Hezbollah "knows what will happen if it gets into conflict with us, and that this will set Lebanon back decades," the chief of staff told the security conference, Israel's Channel 2 reported. 

There is "dramatic instability" in the Middle East, the chief of staff told the audience, adding that the region has undergone "terrible turmoil in recent years."

Gantz predicted that the Syrian conflict will continue over the next decade. The Assad regime is falling apart "like a house of cards," he said.

He also warned against the growth of radicalism in Syria, under the leadership of Iran and Hezbollah. "The Lebanese terrorist organization is in it up to their necks, and Global Jihad is growing stronger there," Channel 2 cited him as saying.

On Iran, he said that Tehran had not abandoned its nuclear ambitions. "However, the Iranians who did not give up on the vision, are struggling internally and will have to reach a dialogue with the international community on the issue."

Gantz said he was "convinced that we must prevent Iran" from acquiring a nuclear weapon, as this would result in an arms race, and that the international cooperation could prevent that. "Iran must not reach nuclear capabilities."

On Egypt, he said that Israel's southern neighbor was "fighting for its image" after the election of President-elect Abed Fateh al-Sissi, who he said is also trying to fight Global Jihad.

When it comes to Gaza, the chief of staff said "there is no small drama" with the extent of medium and long-range rockets around. Like Hezbollah, however, Hamas "understands the price of fighting," he said.