"In principle, we are ready to act," the army chief told the newspaper in a special interview ahead of Israel’s upcoming Independence Day.
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In respect to the Iranian threat, 2012 will be a critical year, Gantz said, adding that "the State of Israel believes that nuclear arms in Iran’s possession are a very bad thing, which the world should stop and Israel should stop."
"We are preparing our plan accordingly," he said.
Israel is the only country in the world facing open destruction threats by another state, which is also producing the means to do carry them out, the army chief said. However, he noted, this does not mean that he will be ordering the army’s Air Force chief to strike Iran "now."
When asked whether Israel faces an existential threat at this time, Gantz said: "The potential exists. At this time, in my estimate, this is not the case."
‘Higher chance of war’
During the interview, Gantz also addressed special operations carried out by the IDF beyond Israel’s borders, revealing that the scope of such activities has increased significantly compared to the past.
"I don’t think you will find a point in time where something isn’t happening somewhere in the world," he said. "The level of risk has increased as well. This is not something invented by Benny Gantz. I’m not taking the credit here. I’m simply accelerating all those special operations."
Regarding the likelihood of a war breaking out this year, Gantz said: "Our intelligence assessment asserts that given the strategic reality and instability in the region, the chance of deteriorating to a war is higher than in the past. There are no indications of war, but the chances of the situation deteriorating into one are higher than in the past."
The army chief added that in case of a regional war, the IDF will be able to cope with the rocket threat from Lebanon and from the Gaza Strip.
"I can’t promise no missiles will be landing here. They will be falling; many of them. It won’t be a simple war, neither on the frontlines nor ion the home front,” he said. “However, I don’t advice anyone to test us on this front."
"When (Hezbollah leader Hassan) Nasrallah comes out of his bunker, he’s concerned – and rightfully so. He saw what happened to Lebanon last time, and it won’t be close to what will happen to Lebanon next time," the army chief said. "I think they understand it well."
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