Israel can operate in Iran if it needs to, IDF chief says

Gantz says Israel conducts ‘secret activities near and far,’ adds Iran is ‘not beyond the army’s reach’

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, July 24, 2013. (photo credit: FLASH90)
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, July 24, 2013. (photo credit: FLASH90)

Israel’s security forces have the capability to carry out military operations in virtually every part of the globe, including Iran, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said Wednesday, adding that Israel had already conducted dozens of covert operations in foreign and enemy countries.

“Last week, the navy returned from a distant operation,” said Gantz, during a discussion with high school students, referring to the interception off the coast of Sudan of an alleged Iranian arm shipment aboard the Klos-C cargo vessel, later towed to Israel. “Our Air Force is wherever we want it to be,” he continued.

“I did not even mention the dozens of secret activities, some of which took place last week, and [some] just as we speak,” he said. “I am talking about close range operations and long-range ones — Iran, and so on. These are not areas that are beyond the IDF’s reach.”

The remarks were recorded and broadcast by Israel’s Channel 10 News.

The TV report asserted that Gantz’s comments represented a first “definitive” acknowledgment that Israel is capable of military intervention in Iran and constituted a hint from the chief of General Staff that this kind of activity was already happening. The station’s military correspondent added that “thousands of people” are involved daily in operations — mainly involving intelligence-gathering, but also involving elite army units — aimed at preventing Israel’s enemies from arming, putting them on the defensive, preventing attacks, and notably “preventing Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities.”

Gantz, in the broadcast remarks, also referred to Israel’s reprisal strikes on Syrian targets after four soldiers were injured in a bomb attack at the Golan Border on Tuesday, and said he was heading back to the Golan after the discussion, at a school in Gan Yavneh.

He also went on to assert that the IDF would have to reoccupy the Gaza Strip if Israel wanted to halt all rocket fire from the Hamas-run territory. “If we want no [rocket fire] to come out of there, or close to none for there’s no such thing as none, then you have to invade Gaza,” Gantz said. “It’s a dilemma we deal with every week; we have the ability to do so… That requires a strategic decision.”

Last week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, in response to a major rocket bombardment of southern Israel, said the IDF should reoccupy the Gaza Strip so that the Israeli government could effectively defend its citizens, even if it jeopardized peace talks with the Palestinians.

Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed