Daily Israel Report

IAF Commander: 'Arab Spring' Could Strengthen Terror

IAF Commander addresses the changes caused by the Arab Spring and says: We cannot cut the defense budget.
By Elad Benari and Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 1/30/2012, 11:54 AM

IAF Commander Major General Ido Nechushtan on Sunday addressed the upheaval in the Arab world and the effects it could have on Israel.

Speaking at the 7th Ilan Ramon International Space Conference, Nechushtan said, “We can say that instability and uncertainty are currently central shapers in the Middle East. We need to assume that this is our strategic environment and that it’s not temporary. This is what we’ll have to get used to.”

He warned that the weakening of regimes in the Middle East as a result of the Arab Spring could lead to weapons leaking to terror organizations in general and specifically to Hizbullah.

“Israel, like other countries, cannot remain indifferent to such a process,” Nechushtan said. “The instability is undoubtedly a very comfortable platform for terror organizations, and also for countries that wish to do so, to destabilize the entire Middle East.”

He also emphasized the danger of Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups taking advantage of the internal changes in Egypt to infiltrate terrorists into the Sinai Peninsula.

“More and more terror cells find their places in Sinai and the responsibility is on Hamas,” he said. “These are derivatives of the turmoil in the Arab world which is a major turmoil. We don’t know when it will end. We don’t know what will come afterwards.”

Nechushtan also addressed the crash of the IAF’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) during a test flight on Sunday morning and said, “What we can say is that during the flight the wing broke and as a result, it crashed. Beyond that, I’d suggest not jumping to any conclusions and wait, as we always do, for the full investigation that will be made, and I believe we will know how to reach the root of the problem and repair whatever needs to be repaired.”

The IAF Commander also noted that he is against the attempts to cut the defense budget, saying, “It is clear that after the Second Lebanon War we cannot hurt the competence of our forces. The army is a guiding light and we cannot leave it untrained. Precisely at this time in light of the trends I mentioned earlier, we should invest in the future so that we will not find ourselves weaker.”