IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz said Tuesday that he foresees the Air Force being challenged three times by 2018.
Speaking at the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Gantz slammed the discourse over the Iranian nuclear issue, saying that "there is a lot of public chatter about the issue, by people who used to know (things about Iran's nuclear program), but no longer do."
Less than a day after it was reported that Iran is building a third nuclear reactor, the IDF chief of staff reiterated that the Islamic Republic is
striving to attain a nuclear program for military purposes.
Gantz emphasized that "Iran has yet to make the decision to cross the threshold due to its own strategic considerations.
Gantz during patrol in the north (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
"The three vectors are – international diplomatic and political isolation, economic pressure applied through international sanctions, and curbing the development of different projects."
The IDF chief stated that in order to create a viable military threat, "The army must be super ready, and as far as I am concerned it is super ready.
"The only ones that can decide to give up the nuclear program are the Iranians themselves, and as an army we are prepared for this option as well," he added.
Addressing the discourse around the Iranian nuclear program, Gantz leveled thinly-veiled criticism at his predecessor Gabi Ashkenazi,
former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and
former Shin Bet chief Yoram Diskin,
who made numerous public statements on the issue.
"The Iranian issue is dynamic and very few people know what is there and what is not there; what is possible and what is impossible. Quite a few people boast about knowing things that they don't know. There is a big gap between the professional dialogue that should be held in the right forums and the public chatter that is taking place," he said.
Gantz also addressed the impending evacuation of the Ulpana neighborhood, saying that the IDF "has no intention of being at the forefront of the issue, but will carry out any instruction that is received from above."
Referring to the situation in Syria, the IDF chief of staff said that "despite internal jolts, Syria's military structures have not been damaged." He added that Israel's main concern is the transfer of arms from Syria to Hezbollah, which "will become more plausible as the military structures begin to dismantle and more materials can be transported."
Gantz noted that "Iran and Hezbollah are increasingly involved in Syria," and that the situation in Syria is also causing instability in the Golan Heights.
Yoav Zitun contributed to this report