Following the publication of the IDF probe into the recent round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi reiterated Israel's high ethical stance and said the military will not tolerate any deviation from its standard of morality.
In the latest outbreak of fighting last November, the IDF targeted a home in the Gazan city of Deir al-Balah which was mistakenly identified as a military compound belonging to Islamic Jihad, resulting in the death of eight members of one family.
The general said mistakes happen but, "we conducted a thorough investigation into the incident and lessons have been learned."
In his first public comments in response to the possible probe by the International Criminal Court into allegations of war crimes, Kochavi sighted Israel's morality and persistent efforts to avoid combat as the necessary ethical footing needed to deploy maximum strength even in urban areas.
The ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Friday announced her intent to probe possible war crimes in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.
"Israel is a phenomenal success and it is the role of the armed forces to provide safety and protection," Kochavi said in an event near Tel Aviv Wednesday.
"The ultimate goal is to instill in our enemies the feeling of despair and doubt in their ability to achieve their aggressive aims," the military chief said.
"Weaponry is moving from Iraq into Syria and from Iran into the Gaza Strip," the military chief said, adding that Israel is conducting a secret ongoing operation aimed at preventing Shi'ite militia entrenchment in Syria and the threat from precise missiles.
"Iran is continuing to produce precise missiles that can reach Israel and has a military industry that is larger than ours," Kochavi said and added that Iran has thus far has not retaliated against Israel's actions and that "though there is an unlikely possibility of direct conflict with Iran: we are preparing for it but not encouraging it." He said.
Calling Iran Israel's immediate enemy, the general said, "We must continue our efforts to remove Iranian weaponry from Syria and it would have been better had we not been the only ones engaged in that effort:"
In Gaza, Kochavi said Hamas is concentrating on improving the condition of civilians. "There is a strong will not to bring about an escalation of tensions on the part of Hamas and it was the Islamic Jihad under the leadership of its now-dead commander Baha Abu al-Ata that were responsible for the vast majority of attacks on Israel in the past year:"
The Chief of Staff went on to say that Hamas is again controlling events in the Strip and with the help of Egypt, Israel can lift some of the restrictions imposed on Gazans while ensuring the safety and security of Israelis along the border.
"This is a government policy and I support it fully. I believe it can bring calm to the area" Kochavi said.
First published: 11:29 , 12.25.19