Chief of Staff Benny Gantz addresses major national security issues during Independence Day interviews; apologizes for not placing Israeli flag on grave of soldier thought not Jewish.
Key national security issues, including the effect the unstable situations in Syria and Egypt are having on Israel, the possibility of a third Palestinian intifada and an attack on Iran, were addressed by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz during Independence Day interviews on Tuesday with media.
During an interview with Army Radio, Gantz stated that it was a distinct possibility that the clashes in Syria might at some point be directed toward Israel. On the subject of Israel’s southern border with Egypt, Gantz said that the regime change in Egypt hadn’t hurt security coordination between the two countries. “Coordination even improved in certain aspects,” said Gantz with respect to the countries’ relationship.
Gantz also addressed during the interview the impact of potential defensebudget cuts. “If there is an adequate budget, there will be an adequate response,” said Gantz. If there is an underfunded budget, there will be an adequate response but at a more painful price.”
With respect to the situation in the Palestinian territories, Gantz stated that the continued quiet in the Gaza Strip “attests to Operation Pillar of Defense having achieved its goals”, and that Israel was not facing the prospect of a third intifada in the West Bank. He also discussed the possibility that Israel would attack Iran.
“The IDF has the capability of attacking the nuclear installations [in Iran] by itself,” Gantz said. However, Gantz added, the assessments regarding the outcomes of such an attack would be factored into decision-making and that lengthy discussions were taking place on the matter.
Later during the interview, Gantz apologized for the event at the Memorial Day ceremony at Mount Herzl, where he placed a ceremonial Israeli flag at the grave of Lt. Col. (res.) Shlomo Nitzani, but not at the one of fallen soldier Yevgeny Tolochko. The IDF has a tradition of the chief of staff placing a flag atop the grave of the last soldier to be buried on Mount Herzl. Nitzani died and was buried six months ago while Tolochko was killed and buried two months ago, however, Tolochko is buried in the part of the cemetery set aside for slain soldiers whose Judaism is in question. Gantz promised he would examine IDF regulations regarding the matter.
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