Published 01:08 25.04.12
Latest update 01:08 25.04.12
Courtesy Of "Haaretz Newspaper"
"Decisions can and must be made carefully, out of historic responsibility but without hysteria," Gantz said.
At his rare public appearances Gantz has taken a cautious approach to the issue - mentioning the military option, whose development and preparation he oversees, while leaving the door open to international negotiations with Iran. His language is far from the dramatic rhetoric of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and is usually free of the Holocaust comparisons of which Israeli politicians are so fond.
Gantz says the international pressure on Iran, in the form of diplomatic and economic sanctions, is beginning to bear fruit. "I also expect that someone is building operational tools of some sort, just in case. The military option is the last chronologically but the first in terms of its credibility. If it's not credible it has no meaning. We are preparing for it in a credible manner. That's my job, as a military man."
Iran, Gantz says, "is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn't yet decided whether to go the extra mile."
As long as its facilities are not bomb-proof, "the program is too vulnerable, in Iran's view. If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken. It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a response. I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don't think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people."
Gantz knows that in the event of another war he will face time pressures as a result of enemy operations against the home front. The IDF will have to bring massive force to bear from the outset, employing most of the means at its disposal quickly and without hesitation or delay.
Ground operations, long-distance fire and in-depth operations as well?
"I don't pretend to determine that now. I am preparing for full deployment of our capabilities. The political leadership will have to take courageous, painful decisions. There are a certain number of critical decisions in a war. The chief of staff makes about 10 of these in his sphere of responsibility in wartime, and the political leadership makes about half this number."
These decisions, Gantz knows, will be made under a barrage of rockets and missiles against civilian areas.
In light of the Arab Spring, Israel's military preparedness must now include a much greater and more varied range of arenas and possibilities.
"I don't know what will happen in Syria, but presumably the Golan Heights won't be as quiet as before. I cannot remove Syria from the military equation, nor Lebanon. I assume that if there are terror threats from the Golan or Lebanon I'll have to take action. I cannot do everything by 'stand-off' [remote]. The enemy's fire capabilities have developed at every distance, four or five times what they were in the Second Lebanon War and four or five times compared to the Gaza Strip before Operation Cast Lead, not to mention the new ground-to-air missile in Syria. I go to sleep with the understanding that what we did in the recent long and comprehensive exercises could happen in reality."
The IDF is also being used as a battlefield for the cultural and political wars of outside forces. The latest skirmish followed Gantz's dismissal of Lt. Col. Shaul Eisner, deputy commander of the IDF's Jordan Valley brigade, for hitting a left-wing activist from Denmark in the face with a rifle. Gantz terms the political interference in the affair a disaster.