Chief of Staff:  IDF to act against attempts to break Gaza sea blockade

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz tells Knesset committee that the spectrum of threats Israel faces is growing

Date: 31/05/2011, 6:13 PM     Author: Jonatan Urich

For the first time since becoming head of the IDF (Zahal), Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz appeared before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday (May 31) and discussed the various security challenges that Israel currently faces.

“The spectrum of threats in light of the changes in the Middle East is growing, from the knife to nuclear,” Lt. Gen. Gantz.

The chief of staff said that the events of “Nakba Day” earlier this month had produced significant lessons for the IDF (Zahal) and that he has ordered extensive preparations for similar occurrences that are expected in the coming months.

“It is clear that in the coming months we could find ourselves dealing with massive popular demonstrations,” Gantz said. “The IDF (Zahal) is prepared for these demonstrations in Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip and on the borders.”

Lt. Gen. Gantz said that due the expanding arc of threats Israel is dealing with, the IDF (Zahal) needs a “new and expanded” budget.

“Past threats are still relevant, but new threats are developing that require us to be able to act on multiple fronts strongly and decisively in our enemies’ short time frame,” the chief of staff added.

On the flotilla to Gaza expected to arrive in the coming month, Lt. Gen. Gantz said: “The flotilla organizers are working to inflame hatred and provocation against Israel and not out of desire to help the population in Gaza.”

The chief of staff added that there is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

“Every day, hundreds of trucks enter filled with food and materials,” he said. “The IDF (Zahal) will work to stop any attempt to break the naval blockade.”

Lt. Gen. Gantz said that the international community has recognized the legitimacy of the blockade, adding that even United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently talked about the legality of the blockade and the illegality of the flotilla.