Ex-IDF chief says military was focused on Iran before October 7, not Hamas

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a conference of the Gazit Institute in Tel Aviv, November 4, 2022. (Gideon Markowicz/ Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a conference of the Gazit Institute in Tel Aviv, November 4, 2022. (Gideon Markowicz/ Flash90)

Former IDF chief of staff Aviv Kochavi, who completed his term in January 2023, says in rare comments since October 7 that the military was more focused on the threat from Iran than from Gaza ahead of the Hamas onslaught.

In comments recorded at an event in the US and aired on Channel 12 news, Kochavi says that “we understood perfectly what’s going on there [in Gaza], their underground facilities and the number of rockets, it did not come as a surprise.”

But Kochavi, who has made few public comments since the start of the war, says that to the IDF “Iran was the top priority, we were preparing the military vis-à-vis Iran.”

“We did not perceive the Gaza Strip and Hamas as an existential threat, the grand strategy was to focus on Iran and the northern arena, to prepare the military and to do whatever we can to pacify the other arenas, that is to say, Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and the Gaza Strip… to sustain and contain the threats from the Gaza Strip via other methods and other means,” Kochavi says.

There was, however, an attempt to eliminate Hamas chiefs Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif, but “it’s hard, in a very densely populated, heavily built-up areas — it’s very hard, so we had been working for months in order to procure the operation but we couldn’t,” he says.

Speaking about the current state of the war against Hamas in Gaza, Kochavi says, “I don’t think there is a way to bring back the hostages without halting for the time being the war.” Overall, he adds, “I don’t think we can achieve complete victory in months, forget it, it will take years.”

Most Popular