Amid almost daily warnings of hostile military buildups in Syria and Lebanon, Israel got a message of reassurance from a former IDF general who was decidedly upbeat on the security situation.
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel told The Jerusalem Post at the 11th annual Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Conference on Wednesday that “the assessment of the strategic situation of Israel is almost the best since the state was founded.”
Dekel acknowledged that the dangers posed by Hezbollah and Hamas constantly trumpeted by the IDF, but he said that there is no immediate existential threat.
Despite risks of conflict at the borders, the larger picture is “very good,” he said, and noted that most Sunni Arab countries have put aside their long-held antipathy and have come around to viewing Israel as a potential friend and ally, visa vis Iran in particular.
In addition, the warm relations with the Trump administration and what appears to be an effective working relationship with Putin contribute to a bright outlook.
However, there’s a cloud on the horizon, and its name is Iran. He noted that while Israel, the U.S. and the Sunni states appreciate the menace of the Shi’ite axis, Europe and Russia don’t. They seem to think that the extension of Iranian influence in the region is acceptable.
“Iran is designing a comfortable environment for themselves by carrying out ethnic cleansing,” Dekel said, explaining that pro-Iranian populations are being settled in these areas as Tehran seeks to shape the Syrian-Lebanese space as in Iraq.
“Someone has to block the Iranian negative influence. And it’s not enough just to talk, you have to do something.”
One of the ideas for doing something discussed at the conference was to develop a dual strategy: battling the Islamic — Jihad terrorist groups and at the same time working to stop the development of ballistic missiles in Iran, and to block its expansion in Middle East.
Israeli leaders have talked publicly about “doing something” about the Iranians building missile factories in Lebanon. But what happens if the IDF knocks out a factory or two?
“If Israel tries to prevent that, what will happen then? I assume Hezbollah will try to respond,” Dekel said. That could escalate into war, which could involve both Lebanon and Syria taking part in the fight against Israel.
“[And] of course in any scenario of escalation on the northern front, Iran and Hezbollah will try to convince others in Gaza to operate against us,” Dekel said, further reminding his listeners that Israel must always be ready for trouble in Yehudah and Shomron as well…