04/24/2012, 00.00
ISRAEL

Israel ready to strike Iran, Lebanon, Gaza, says Israeli Armed Forces Chief of Staff

Lt Gen Binyamin Gantz spoke to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth. This will be a crucial year. As Iran's nuclear threat must be stopped, Israel is preparing for a possible conflict.

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Israel is ready, if necessary, to strike Iran, Lebanon and Gaza, Israeli Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt Gen Benny Gantz said in an interview with top Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth. For him, the year 2012 will be critical to halt what Israel and much of the international community believe is an Iranian nuclear arms programme. "We think that a nuclear Iran is a very bad thing, which the world needs to stop and which Israel needs to stop-and we are planning accordingly," Gantz said on the eve of Israel's 64th anniversary as a state.

An attack against Iran's nuclear plants has been openly discussed in Israel for years. In the past few months, papers have carried both pro- and anti-attack views.

For the Jewish state and much of the international community, Iran's nuclear programme has a hidden military component. Conversely, Tehran has always claimed that it is peaceful in nature.

For now, the United States has kept to a diplomatic strategy, coupled with ever tightening sanctions.

"Our intelligence assessment asserts that given the strategic reality and instability in the region, the chance of deteriorating to a war is higher than in the past," Gen Gantz said in the interview. "There are no indications of war, but the chances of the situation deteriorating into one are higher than in the past."

In view of a possible wider conflict, Israel's Defence Forces are preparing to respond to threats from Lebanon and Gaza as well.

"I can't promise no missiles will be landing here. They will be falling, many of them. It won't be a simple war, neither on the frontlines nor ion the home front," he said. "However, I don't advise anyone to test us on this front."

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