Lt. Gen. Gantz speaks to Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee saying it is uncertain Syria's chemical weapons will remain safe. IDF closely tracks developments
Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz spoke to the Israeli Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and warned those behind the terrorist attack in Bulgaria: "We will find a way to respond in an intimidating manner. This doesn’t have to be done in a separate operation, but rather as part of our routine activity. We will do so in a reasonable way and eventually the response will come."
Addressing terrorist attack threats against Israeli targets around the world Lt. Gen. Gantz said, "We are operating around the clock, gathering intelligence and thwarting attacks… There were 14 or 15 previous attempted attacks that the defense system delayed and thwarted, but eventually a terrorist attack succeeded. You heard during our situation assessment that the Hezbollah terrorist organization is backed up by Iran, and that we thwarted 15 previous attempts. We must continue thwarting activity."
The Chief of Staff discussed the unconventional weapons owned by the Syrian regime, which is currently fighting for its survival. He said that it is uncertain Syria's chemical weapons will remain in "safe hands." "I believe the weapons are currently secured and so far haven’t reached negative hands- this doesn’t mean they will remain secured. There is a risk the weapons will be used against civilians, transferred to Hezbollah, etc. We will continue tracking this," said Lt. Gen. Gantz. He stressed that we will employ caution to avoid facing a "wider conflict than planned."
According to Lt. Gen. Gantz, "The control of the regime in Syria still exists, but is constantly challenged. We are tracking the level of control and the sovereignty in all areas in Syria. It's crucial to remember 20,000 people were already killed, 4,000 of them belonged to the security forces. Additionally, 16 to 17 thousand defected, including high ranking officers." He added that "desertion doesn’t only strengthen the opposition forces. It affects the military units that are left without commanders.
This will affect the operation of the soldiers and units, which in my opinion will continue deteriorating with time." Lt. Gen. Gantz stressed that "the targeting of top security officials was a severe blow. Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad appointed replacements to the positions he lost but he also lost the man closest to him, who also happened to be a family member." He added that the Syrian regime is focusing its efforts in Damascus and Halab, aided by Iran and the Hezbollah terrorist organization that provide resources, manpower, tactical advice and more.
Addressing current situation in the Golan Heights, Lt. Gen. Gantz said, "The expression 'the Syrians are on the fences' was used during the Naksa Day riots two years ago, and today battles take place there. The military is continuously operating there. There were Syrians who approached the border fence and then went back to their villages. Yesterday three mortar shells hit the region, two of them within the demilitarized zone established by the Israel-Syria Disengagement Agreement. They did not intend to target us though the conflict is ensuing and incidents can occur at any moment. We are closely tracking this."