Chief of Staff: Terror organizations endanger citizens of the world

Lt. Gen. Gantz holds talks with counterparts at NATO Military Committee discussing importance of international cooperation against global terror threats

Date: 18/01/2012, 11:24 AM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website

Chief of the General Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz held a number of work meetings on Tuesday (January 17) as part of a conference in Brussels attended by chiefs of staffs of NATO countries.

Lt. Gen. Gantz discussed with his counterparts the security challenges facing Israel and the IDF (Zahal) and said to the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee General Knud Bartels: “We are in a dramatically different reality than before, including new threats and an era of uncertainty and instability, requiring new thinking from all of us.”

Continuing his meetings on Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Gantz spoke about matters such as regional threats and the importance of cooperation with NATO countries against the global terrorist threat.

“In the year that has passed since the last meeting, the strategic situation in which both NATO and the IDF (Zahal) operate and plan has changed dramatically,” said Lt. Gen. Gantz. “In addition to the positive changes and new hopes raised in the Middle East and North Africa we face many dramatic new opportunities, as well as increased risks.”

In regards to transitional changes taking place within several countries he said, “Our hope is that the changes in our region will lead to a stable Middle East; that the bilateral agreements with our neighbors will continue to be respected; and will lead to friendly relations and a better future for the region, and the world as a whole.”

Lt. Gen. Gantz clarified that “At the same time, while hoping for the best we must plan for the worst. Large numbers of advanced weapons have yet to be secured. Many have already been smuggled across international borders and reached terrorist groups; those weapons are endangering the lives of many innocent civilians all across the globe.” He continued that “The current situation provides fertile ground for radical actors to spread their message of hate, to threaten our tranquility and to menace the daily order of our people.

Lt. Gen. Gantz addressed NATO’s decision to adopt a missile defense shield at the Lisbon Summit: “This is a reflection of the global danger from non-conventional weapons, however, BMD capabilities must be the last line of defense only. The initiation must begin far earlier by preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.”

“The nature of the conflict is more complicated than in the past, given that, for those enemies, human life has no value, except to be taken,” he said. “They store lethal weapons and fire missiles from homes, schools and places of worship, greatly endangering the lives of the civilians living there. They attack innocent civilians in a deliberate attempt to tear our societies apart and strike fear into the hearts of every person.”

Explaining the importance and desire for cooperation and consolidation Lt.Gen. Gantz said, “Any effective international strategy to deal with these threats must involve strengthening the moderates while weakening the radicals. Only by working together, using a mixture of hard and soft power, will we be able to deter and, over the long haul, overcome the radical actors.

Israel, like NATO, views the Mediterranean Dialogue as an important framework for engaging with our neighbors, as well as with our allies. In light of the changes in the region over the last year, now, more than ever, the MD can serve as an important forum for the exchange of ideas on topics of global and regional importance, as we are doing here today.”

“We believe that NATO’s decision in Lisbon to upgrade its relationship with the partner nations is of great importance, for both sides. Israel is pleased with the process of implementing this policy,” he added.

Lt. Gen. Gantz concluded his speech with a quote from the Ethics of the Fathers, a Jewish ethical code which was written in Israel two thousand years ago: “Who is wise? One who learns from every man… Who is honorable? One who honors his fellow man.” Despite the passage of the years, in these challenging times, this advice still remains highly relevant to our discussion here today and reflects the ongoing importance of the cooperation with NATO and dialogue with this forum.”