Israel will win the next conflict with those who pose a threat from the north, says the outgoing head of the IDF Northern Command, General Yoel Strick, as he marks the end of a two-year stint in the position.
Strick says it would be a mistake separating Lebanese-based terror group Hezbollah from the rest of Lebanon since it is a political player and part of the establishment. It would be wise, in his view, to declare war on Lebanon to demonstrate the price they will have to pay, should Hezbollah attack.
Regarding Syria, General Strick said Israel's actions against Iranian entrenchment in Southern Syria, including on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, succeeded in moving them away from the border with Israel, though their presence in the rest of the country continues.
Will Israel's freedom to act be impeded when the new Russian S-300 missile defense batteries become operational for the Syrian military? Will relations with Russia be challenged?
Strick: "We will introduce advanced weapons systems into the area but Israel has an excellent air force. I will not go into detail of our options, but if the Syrians employ Russian S-300s against our planes, and we take them out, it will be seen as a legitimate move on our part. I see that happening though I hope we don't get to that. But if our freedom of movement is threatened we will remove the threat. We know how to do that.
And will that challenge our relations with Russia?
Has the discovery of Hezbollah's attack tunnels, destroyed by Israel, ended the organizations plan to infiltrate across the border?
No. Hezbollah still holds on to those plans. We, of course, will not let that happen. We will foil those plans. This is not only a threat to us but also an opportunity, since they have diverted their best fighters to the South. We will face them and I have no doubt of the outcome.
Have you destroyed all of the tunnels? Are there none left?
In my profession, there is no certainty, so I will say as far as I am aware - with the means available to us I can say with a high degree of confidence that the threat from attack tunnels has been removed. Can they be developed again? I hope not.