Daily Israel Report

IDF Chief: Hezbollah Stronger than Most Countries in the Region

Chief of Staff outlines security issues: Russia arming Assad weekly, Hezbollah massive threat to Israel, Iran can be stopped by force.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/9/2014, 12:26 PM

Benny Gantz at the Herzlilya Conference
Benny Gantz at the Herzlilya Conference
Erez Harodi Studio

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz spoke about the gamut of security challenges to Israel on Monday morning at the Herzliya Conference.

Gantz suggested that the bloody Syrian civil war, now raging in its fourth year, poses a serious threat to Israel. According to Walla!, the chief of staff said Russia is arming the Syrian army under President Bashar Assad's command every week.

The structure of rule in Syria, according to Gantz, "is crashing like a house of cards. As long as Assad is there, we won't see a meaningful solution because they (the rebels) are fighting against him and not for the future."

Gantz warned of two dangers from the Syrian conflict, one being the strengthening of the radical axis of Assad, Iran and Hezbollah. On the other hand, he noted the Global Jihad Islamist terror movement is also growing strength through its operations in the country.

Speaking about Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon to Israel's north, Gantz appraised the Iran-proxy terror group, saying "there are maybe four of five countries (in the region) with more fire power than Hezbollah. They have a tremendous fire power which covers all of Israel."

"In Israel you can be drinking coffee at nine in the morning, and by four in the afternoon be at war," warned Gantz about the volatile regional instability.

On a different topic, Gantz spoke about the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program.

"Its possible to earnestly prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon - by force or not by force. ...It's preferable without force, but if there is no choice it is possible by force. The main thing is that they don't reach the nuclear threshold."

Gantz argued that the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, the most recent round of which is opening in Geneva on Monday, do not represent a sincere change in the Islamic regime's goals.

"Iran will try to preserve its abilities to restore its (nuclear) program in the future, and to advance it. It couldn't ignore the voice on the street (of the Iranian public), so it was forced to open dialogue with the international community while not giving up on its vision," warned Gantz.

Indeed, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei revealed in January that the nuclear talks are merely a tactic to stall for time. He added last month that Western expectations for the Islamic Republic to limit its missile program were "stupid and idiotic."