Would the incoming Israeli Chief of Staff favor an attack on Iran?

Posted: February 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us, war | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Major General Benny Gantz spoke frequently on Iran, but his position regarding the military option remains unclear

After an unprecedented series of events, consisting of a public dispute between the Defense Minister and the departing Chief of Staff and two canceled appointments to replace the latter, it seems that the IDF finally has its new commander: Major General Benny Gantz.

Gantz was the head of the Northern Command, the military attaché in Washington and in his last role, Deputy Chief of Staff. Last summer, after Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided not to appoint him as the new IDF commander, Gantz left the army.

As Deputy Chief of Staff, Gantz was in charge of the work relating to the Iranian nuclear threat. In interviews and public appearances he referred to Iran as a danger not only to Israel but to the entire international community.

Last spring, Gantz said that “there is no question regarding our moral right to act [againt Iran]“ [Heb]. Yet according to Ynet’s defense analyst Ron Ben-Yishay, much like the departing Gabi Ashkenazi, Gantz belongs to the “skeptics” camp, and would like to avoid IDF military action against the Iranian nuclear facilities. Unlike Ashkenazi, Gantz is not expected to oppose such an action if the political leadership decides to carry it out.

Here is a video of Gantz speaking on Iran at the previous Herzliya conference:

UPDATE: Haaretz’s Amir Oren also estimate that Benni Gantz opposes a military strike on Iran. “Gantz is part of the level-headed camp, led by Gabi Ashkenazi,” writes Oren [link in Hebrew]. Oren names other senior IDF generals that hold the same views, and concludes that the “pro-active” coalition on Iran, led by Netanyahu and Barak, is disintegrating.

Both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are said to be among those favoring a military confrontation with Iran, if all other efforts to stop the nuclear program fails. Departing Chief of Staff Ashkenazi as well as Ministers Avigdor Lieberman and Moshe Yaalon are considered among those opposing an attack on Iran.

Israeli Chiefs of Staff are appointed for three years, though it is not uncommon for the term to be extended to four years. That means Gantz would leave office between 2014 and 2015.


4 Comments on “Would the incoming Israeli Chief of Staff favor an attack on Iran?”

  1. 1 john welch said at 10:33 pm on February 6th, 2011:

    No, the Israeli military will not attack Iran.

    How would they?

    Compare the US “shock and awe” campaign against Iraq. After the noise ended and the smoke cleared, the grunts has to dig the Iraqi army out of their positions.

    Does Israel have a bigger airforce than the USAF plus US Navy aviation plus the large number of cruise-missile ships?

    Still, the Army had to invade and hold Iraq.

    Iran has a population of 75 million; Iraq had about 30 million.

    The Israeli Army will have to march across Syria to get to Iran. Is that likely?

    The US Army has 10 regular divisions, or 500,000 Soldiers. The USARNG has another 450,00 Soldiers, who are suaully deployed in battalion-size to augument the regular divisions. There are about 250,000
    who move in brigades, and are useful for assaults, but are not equipped to hold territory.

    At any one time in the last eight years, the US has had about four regular/augmented divisions in Iraq and Afganistan, serving 18 month deployments. Another four divisions refit and recruit for their next deployment. One division is kept in South Korea. That leaves one divoision in strategic reserve.

    Is the IDF prepared to commit that amount of resource to attack Iran?

    We know it is not. The Iranians know. The world knows.

    Netanyahu can jump up and down, can threaten to hold his breath until he turns purple, but he has no more power to harm Iran than the ayatollahs have to harm Israel.

    Given the revolution in Egypt, there are more important, and real, problems for the world.

  2. 2 john welch said at 10:35 pm on February 6th, 2011:

    correction: 250,000 US Marines.

  3. 3 Tom Mitchell said at 6:45 pm on February 12th, 2011:

    John,
    One of the main lessons of the October 1973 Yom Kippur/Ramadan War was that it is not necessary in the Middle East for a country to expect to win in order for it to decide to go to war. Egypt went to war despite not having the air superiority capability to win the war because Sadat believed, correctly, that going to war would shake up the frozen political atmosphere. Likewise, some Israeli leaders might calculate, probably incorrectly, that an Israeli attack might shake up the thinking of the players and force an American attack on Iran.

  4. 4 maayan said at 12:04 am on February 14th, 2011:

    I don’t think Israel actually expects the US to go to war in Iran. It’s clear to anybody watching that the US military is already overstretched in its current two fronts. Adding Iran to the mix is unrealistic and it’s extremely doubtful that the US hasn’t made that clear to Israel’s leadership.