IDF chief Gantz
Photo: Motti Kimchi

Gantz: Russian effort to preserve Syria alliance 'strange'

IDF chief says Moscow lending 'considerable support' to Iran-Hezbollah efforts to preserve Assad regime. 'No calm in Gaza if no calm in south Israel,' he warns

"Iran and Hezbollah are involved up to their necks and more in an attempt to preserve the axis and (Syrian President Bashar) Assad's regime, and/or in a concerted and coordinated effort to prepare for the day after," IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said, referring to the possible fall of Assad's regime.


"Strangely, Russia lends considerable support to this by supporting Assad," the IDF chief told the annual conference of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies Monday night.


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Gantz said the IDF is preparing for the possibility that Syria will be divided into separate zones. "Syria may be Alawitestan in the northwestern corner of the country, and lately I've been hearing the term 'Afghaniskan' (Afghanistan is here). We are not waiting for this future to arrive and have been preparing for this for more than a year," he said.


According to Gantz, the main threat to Israel remains Iran, saying the Islamic Republic continues to take advantage of the dialogue with the Western powers to "carry out a strategic filibuster on the way to getting closer to nuclear capability."


מחאה סורית נגד שיתוף הפעולה הסורי-איראני (צילום:   AFP)

Syrians protest Assad-Iran cooperation (Photo: AFP)


"Iran strives for regional hegemony, and wherever it is involved there will be repercussions. A reality of a nuclear Iran will be severe, and it will have a dramatic influence (on the region)," the army chief told the conference.


Addressing the situation in Lebanon, Gantz said Hezbollah may find itself isolated in the region due to what he referred to as a crack in the axis with Iran. He said the axis is weakening due to pressures applied on the Shiite group within Lebanon. "Hezbollah is helping Assad to get his hands on strategic capabilities," he added.


As for the rocket fire emanating from the Gaza Strip over the past few weeks, the IDF chief said Israel's deterrence has not been eroded and "Hamas is not interested in losing control and is monitoring the developments in Gaza, but it is not the only player, and there are other terror organizations that are trying to act. (Hamas) is trying to restrain them.


"We cannot go back to the reality which existed before Operation Pillar of Defense. If calm will not prevail in the south, it will not prevail in Gaza either. We will not hesitate to activate force there, if necessary," Gantz warned.


The army chief also addressed the recent rocket attack on Eilat, saying the Sinai Peninsula is becoming less and less "stable." Gantz said he hopes the Egyptians will continue with their efforts to rein in terror elements operating in the peninsula.



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פרסום ראשון: 04.22.13, 23:10
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