IDF Chief Goes Off Reservation: Israeli Home Front “Not Ready” for War

Richard Silverstein – Tikun Olam July 29, 2012

IDF chief Benny Gantz has further confirmed the outright reluctance of the Israeli military to attack Iran, a position that goes directly counter to that of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.  Channel 10′s Immanuel Rosen reported about an allegedly off the record conversation (possibly with Rosen himself), in which Gantz said that the Israeli home front was not prepared for the Iranian response to an Israeli attack.  He added that such a military strike would have a “limited effect” on Iran.

While it’s no surprise that Israel’s military and intelligence branches are outright opposed to military action (the political echelon is in favor), such differences usually aren’t expressed so publicly and so baldly.  The truth of this can be seen in the fact that the military censor ordered the report deleted from the Channel’s website.  The video of the broadcast no longer contains this portion of the interview.  You can see the cut at 7:20 of this video.

My high-level Israeli source informs me that no less a figure than Ehud Barak himself ordered the censor to take this action.  Barak has had a contentious personal history with chiefs of staff, including the previous one, Gaby Ashkenazi.  It seems this sort of fractiousness continues with Gantz.  In fact, a year ago Barak also silenced Gantz on the same subject by refusing him permission to testify before a Knesset intelligence committee.  Undoubtedly, the defense minister knew his military chief would express views about an Iran attack that varied from his own.  His way of dealing with this was by muzzling him.  While it may flatter Barak’s vanity to do so, it deprives the nation and its policymakers with the sort of expert, robust debate on a matter of critical national importance.

Frankly, I’m grateful that the IDF leadership continues to be willing to express its views strongly on this matter.  It could be one of the factors that causes Israel to avoid making such a tragic error.  Many speculated before this, that after Meir Dagan, Yuval Diskin and Gaby Ashkenazi left their positions and were replaced by individuals of lesser experience, that the latter would be cowed by the large personalities of Netnayahu and Barak.  So far, this seems not to be the case.


Update – July 31, 2012

Although the above report is heartening, subsequent developments have not been so encouraging.
In response to reports like the above that he had expressed opposition to attacking Iran, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has said that the ‘IDF will follow Iran attack orders if given’ 
 “We tell the political echelon what we think and we will do what we are told,” Gantz said during a visit to the Tel Hashomer Military Induction Center. “None of the reports came from me.”
 “I am not in favor of discussing disagreements if there are such but I am in favor of telling the government what I think,” he said.
“Iran is continuing to provoke and to work to obtain a nuclear military capability,” Gantz said. “This is major problem for the entire world and region and we should not ignore it since this is the only country in the world that is developing a nuclear weapon and calling for the destruction of another country. All options are on the table and this is not a slogan but a fact.”

Quotes source 

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