Members of Iran's Basij paramilitary force march in Tehran (file)
Members of Iran's Basij paramilitary force march in Tehran (file) Reuters

Israel's Military Intelligence chief warned last week that Israel and Iran are both battling for technological edge - and the Islamic Republic is quickly narrowing the gap between the two countries. 

Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi made the remarks at closed lecture Thursday to donors and faculty members of the College of Management at the Rothschild Bank in Tel Aviv, Haaretz reports. 

“If you ask me whether we’ll be at war with Iran within the next 10 years, I’ll give you a surprising answer: We are already at war with Iran,” Halevi asserted. “We’re in the midst of a technological war with Iran. Our engineers are fighting Iranian engineers today and it’s becoming increasingly significant.”

“Today we have the advantage, but Iran is closing in on it," he added. "Since the 1979 revolution, the number of universities and university students in Iran has increased twentyfold, compared with three and a half times for Israel." 

A related issue, Halevi noted, was the Military Intelligence unit's difficulty in developing and retaining intelligence sources thanks to rapid technological change as well as rising intelligence costs.

Defending the IDF against criticism over the size of the defense budget, Halevi cautioned that a negative attitude toward the Israeli army could prove "dangerous."

"Officers tell me strangers sometimes stop them on the street saying we’re the problem of the Israeli economy. I’d be cautious. It’s better that the best people are involved - in security in general and intelligence in particular.”

Halevi also expressed concern over calls to end mandatory military service, which he warned could result in the IDF not "accept[ing] all of Israeli youth into its ranks and... [not taking] advantage of the best people."

“If we change the model of the people’s army, then in the first two or three years inertia will keep us going, but after that the entire defense establishment will be damaged to the point of causing harm to the state’s security.”