Netanyahu hails army readiness, says forces ready for ‘crushing attack’
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Netanyahu hails army readiness, says forces ready for ‘crushing attack’

On surprise visit to weapons depot, PM admits ‘things need to be improved’ but praises IDF’s preparedness to go to war any time order is given

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) visiting a weapons depot at the Sirkin IDF base in central Israel, January 30, 2019. (Haim Tzach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) visiting a weapons depot at the Sirkin IDF base in central Israel, January 30, 2019. (Haim Tzach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the IDF is prepared for battle, as he paid a surprise visit to a weapons depot at the Sirkin base in central Israel.

“My impression is that forces are ready for the day the order is given, and the forces here are capable of delivering great power in battle,” he told soldiers during a tour of the base.

Netanyahu said that the IDF is prepared to deliver a “crushing attack,” without specifying who might be on the receiving end.

Tensions have been mounting on both the southern and northern fronts. In the south, violent clashes on the border with the Gaza Strip threaten to escalate into major exchanges between Israel and the Hamas terror group, as they have in the past.

At the same time, Israel has become increasingly open about its efforts to prevent Iran from establishing a military foothold in Syria where it is helping the regime to end that country’s civil war. Jerusalem has admitted to carrying out hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian targets in recent years. Tehran has made belligerent threats to hit back at the Jewish state through its proxies the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The preparedness of the army for war was called into question last month by the outgoing Defense Ministry ombudsman who rejected an IDF report claiming the armed forces were more ready than ever and accused officials of a cover-up.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick, who has repeatedly asserted that ground forces are rife with problems in their readiness for conflict, also called for the establishment of a new, objective committee to look into his claims of army inadequacies.

Netanyahu on Wednesday admitted that “things need to be improved” but said that “as a rule, I think there is very good preparedness here.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2L) visiting a weapons depot at the Sirkin IDF base in central Israel, January 30, 2019. (Haim Tzach/GPO)

Brick has criticized the state of military vehicles and its emergency storage units, crucial for arming and supplying reserve troops during war. He has also lambasted the IDF’s changes to manpower in recent years which have seen the number of career soldiers significantly scaled back.

He said he based his claims on conversations with commanders in the field rather than the military’s top brass.

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in early October, Brick, formally known as the chief complaints officer in the Defense Ministry, charged that the current situation in the IDF was “worse than it was at the time of the Yom Kippur War” in 1973, when Israel was famously caught off-guard by a surprise attack by Egypt and Syria.

In September, then IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot assured lawmakers that the military was prepared to fight a war under any scenario.

“The IDF is at a high level of preparedness and readiness for war with regard to any threat,” Eisenkot said at the time.

Eisenkot ended his four-year term at the army’s top officer earlier this month and was replaced by Aviv Kohavi.

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