Benny Gantz
Benny GantzAriel Hermoni/Defense Ministry

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday presented to the experts of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) the main security challenges as he sees them.

"As the Minister of Defense and as someone who has devoted most of his years to the security of Israel - I must tell you that we are facing challenging years in terms of national security, the likes of which we have not known for many years, perhaps since the Yom Kippur War. The IDF and the security forces are required to take daily actions against five active fronts and more - in Israel, in Gaza, on the northern border with Syria, Lebanon, as well as in the cyber dimension. All this alongside operations that take place far beyond enemy lines, and that it would be best not to speak of," said Gantz.

"Israel is facing security challenges that will affect our existence and our future, for decades to come. Some of them are just around the corner, and we will be required to deal with them immediately after the elections."

On Iran, Gantz said, "We are at a strategic breaking point that could lead to Iran becoming a nuclear threshold state within months. Since the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Netanyahu's encouragement, Iran has increased uranium enrichment and the number of centrifuges and has come significantly closer to becoming a nuclear threshold state."

The Defense Minister said that after the midterm elections in the US, which will be held next month, Israel will face two scenarios: "The signing of a nuclear agreement, which may be even less comprehensive than the original agreement from which the US withdrew. In this case, we will need extensive international efforts in building a military option, in intelligence cooperation, and of course in defending ourselves on our own."

"In the second situation, no agreement will be signed, and Iran can decide at any stage to advance to 90% enrichment, which will almost make it a nuclear threshold state. In order for this not to happen, we will have to create an effective deterrent together with our partners, led by the US."

On the maritime agreement with Lebanon, Gantz said, "The regime in Lebanon continues to fall apart, poverty is increasing, and in this situation Hezbollah's influence is increasing, and through it Iranian influence as well. The maritime border agreement that we are promoting these days will create a balance of deterrence and act in the interest of both sides, and it also has the potential to reduce the Iranian influence on Lebanon. Alongside this, instability and an economic and political crisis on our border, create a reality of uncertainty."

Regarding the tensions in Judea and Samaria, Gantz said, "A new generation has grown up in the Palestinian Authority, which does not belong to any organization. About two-thirds of the perpetrators of attacks in the past year are young people who were not yet born at the start of the second intifada, the vast majority of them did not experience the first intifada. The State of Israel weakened the Palestinian Authority over the years - We are changing this trend, with the understanding that it is the relatively moderate body, with which it is possible to cooperate, and maintain security coordination."