Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz marked the three-year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead on Tuesday by hailing it “an excellent operation that achieved deterrence for Israel vis-a-vis Hamas.” However, he warned, cracks have emerged in that deterrence over time, and a second round of fighting in the Gaza Strip is not a matter of choice for Israel.
Such a round must be initiated by Israel and must be “swift and painful,” he said, adding, “I do not advise Hamas to test our mettle.”
Speaking on Army Radio on Tuesday in honor of Shirutrom, the IDF’s annual telethon, Gantz gave his most wide-ranging interview since taking office more than 10 months ago. His predecessor, Gabi Ashkenazi, gave no interviews to the civilian media during his four years in office. Only once a year, in honor of the telethon, did he agree to any interviews at all.
Gantz appears to be taking the same tack, although sources close to him say he will be interviewed by the civilian media in the future.
In response to a question by interviewer Ilana Dayan regarding the timing of such an attack, Gantz said, “We will act when the conditions are right.”
In reference to the debate over the best way to act against the Iranian nuclear program, Dayan asked Gantz whether his position and that of the new Mossad chief Tamir Pardo were not as strong as that of Ashkenazi and the former Mossad head, Meir Dagan. Gantz rejected the idea, stating, “Whoever should hear, hears my voice loud and clear.”