Major-General stock, now a Knesset member from the bloc «the Zionist camp» and a member of the Knesset’s foreign Affairs and defense Eyal Ben-Reuven has held several command positions, including post commander of land forces of the IDF, commander of the Northern corps, Deputy commander of the Northern district.
In an interview with NEWSru.co.il he shares his assessments of the situation on the Northern border in connection with the incident on February 10, indicates a high probability of war and about the steps that can afford to avoid it.
Interviewed political commentator NEWSru.co.il Gabby Wolfson.
Mr. Ben-Reuven, to what extent that occurred over the weekend in Northern Israel, was a rehearsal for a future war? This will be the scenario starts?
Not obligatory. But we certainly are in a situation of permanent increase of tension. I say this about half a year. All this time the situation is constantly heating up. The fact is that, contrary to expectations, Syria stabiliziruemost. Before, we thought that the time for Assad exhausted, but now we see how he is regaining control over its territory. More than 70% of Syrian territory under the full control of Assad’s army. Rebels in control of territory South of Damascus, a few in the border area with Israel, but the majority of the territory Assad took power. He managed to do thanks to two forces: the first is Iran and Hizbullah. I think they are one. Hizbullah is an advanced division of Iran. I was once asked if I believe that Iran peredoziruet division of his army to Syria. I replied that this is not necessary, as there is already Iranian division, known as «Hezbollah». And the second force is, of course, Russia. I think Russia’s return to the region, the establishment of its bases in Syria, major strategic change in the middle East for many years.
This occurred simultaneously with a significant distancing of U.S. intervention in the problems of the region.
The US is not here, the US is not with us. It’s sad, because USA are our main support, but you have to realize that the US is not here. Americans continue to speak about the «nuclear deal» and other topics, but we must understand that Iran today is not only a nuclear threat. Iran for a very long time finds a weak point in the middle East, captures them and tries to let them root. Today Iran says Assad is a very simple thing: «We have kept your power, we sacrificed a lot for you. We now demand dividends. We want to retain a presence in Syria. We want to be near the border with Israel. We want to surround Israel with a ring of continuously operating forces of terror.» In Lebanon, they got Hezbollah. Now they want Hezbollah was in Syria. And not only Hizbullah, but other Shiite militias. In other words, thousands of terrorists from around the Shiite world, which they want to send to Syria and to prepare for action against the state of Israel. But that’s not all. Nasrallah recently said it delivers advanced anti-tank Kornet missiles to Hamas. This creates a ring. On the other hand, Israel is clearly and absolutely rightly says it will not allow a situation in which the Golan heights will occur on the actual land border with Iran. And these two vectors are facing each other. And the biggest problem is that there is no one who could effectively stop a counter-movement of those forces.
This could be done by the Americans.
Americans do not have.
You clearly affirm that, despite various reports that they are behind the scenes affect the events?
They go about their business: are at war with «al Qaeda» and «Islamic state». But on our borders they are not, there is Russian. With Russian it’s not as straightforward as many think. I enter the Knesset’s foreign Affairs and defense and three times in the last year and a half met with senior representatives of Russia. I’m talking about the Secretary of the security Council, the head of the Commission for foreign Affairs, heads of power structures. They have access to Putin, and he listens to them, though decisions are made by myself. During the last meeting, we have them draw a diagram of the movement of the two forces towards each other and said that if they don’t stop this process, you will be in a situation where you don’t want to. It no one wants in the region, including Russia. For years she fought to save the Assad regime, all the forces prevented the attempt to remove him from power. Now, giving Iran the ability to do whatever they want, endangering it Assad.
Why use it?
Because, if God forbid, Israel will be embroiled in a war in the North due to the fact that our territory shelled from Syria, the responsibility we put on how is a government in Syria that is Assad. By the way, the same thing we tell the Lebanese. The fact that Hezbollah is part of your political system is your business, but in case of an attack, the responsibility will be vested in the government in Lebanon, i.e. the government.
And you said the representatives of Russia?
They shook his head. I must say that the conversation was semi-formal, and so they answered honestly. They don’t want Iran in Syria. Not want. But do not expect that now, when they both are fighting for the preservation of the Assad regime, Russia will go to forceful measures to oust Iran from Syria. «Give us time,» they said. Russia understands everything, and understands the risks associated with the presence of Iran in Syria. By the way, and Assad understands that in the long term, the Iranian presence threatens him with loss of power. But now Russia looks at everything from the outside and does almost nothing. I say almost because Russia does not act against us.
The coordination mechanism works.
It works, but I will tell you more. The relationship with Russia is very, very, very important. This is, firstly, co-ordination, allowing a free hand to act, and, secondly, Russia is a superpower, who returned to the middle East and is not going to leave. She is grounded here, and we need to remember who they are and who we are. Yet they are the elephant and we’re the mouse, and not Vice versa.
Can hear from you praising Netanyahu, who tied these contacts with Russia?
When I talk about security, it is not divided into right, left and all the rest. The government’s policy towards Syria is more than culpable. Not only now, but throughout all the years of the Syrian crisis. However, the situation changed. I also said that we are in any case not worth it to stick your hand into this Syrian slaughter, because we will be without hands. Now simply have no choice. You need a very hard, aggressive diplomatic moves against Russia and the United States, the purpose of which is to force both countries to stop the impending collision of the Israeli and Iranian interests, when Israel says «you will not be on our borders,» and Iran says «we will». And the incident last weekend could be used as a cautionary example. But if these forces will not stop, we on the way to war. And based on the fact. As is the situation today. In my opinion, war in the North is almost inevitable.
When this might happen?
But you’re talking about? About the month? About weeks?
Never know. Saturday’s incident could easily escalate into uncontrollable escalation. This can happen in the coming weeks. If you ask me, whether it’s 2018 threat, the answer is: definitely, Yes. I’m not saying unequivocally that the war is: it does not want the Syrians don’t want Russian, it does not want Hezbollah, which is still reeling from the war in Syria. Nasrallah lost two thousand fighters, is no joke. What Iran wants is the big question. It is obvious that for Iran, the incident that happened last weekend – a huge success.
Certainly. Each draws a picture of victory. And for Iran, the fact that the missile, in this case, Russian production was actually down an Israeli plane is a picture of victory. They’re not going to talk about the fact that half of the anti-aircraft weapons Arsenal of Syria has been destroyed a brilliant response to the IDF air force. I don’t think there are many States that are able in such a short time to organize such a response – and I mean intelligence in the sense of the organization.
That is, the answer was correct?
The answer was, of course, correct. The response was weighted. I must say honestly that I am much calmer when I know what the lever that sets everything in motion, such a person is like Gadi Gadi eizenkot is a very reasonable man, who knows what power is, and most importantly, what are the limits of power. In this situation to be able to create a deterrent, and at the same time to be able to stop the escalation is an art, the art of the commander.
Political leadership is also merit in decision-making in a similar situation.
Political leadership I’m willing to give part of the credit. But this event should be used as a sobering call to those who still can do something to stop it. To us this weekend was luck. Taking into account the place where the crashed plane (near houses in the village Harduf), could result in the loss of life, and we are now in a different country. But this is the lesson of Israeli society. Military, that is I, but especially the air force, the debt is years accustomed the society to the fact that you can win «to nil», to win without casualties. Must not. In war there are always victims, there are victims. But on the other hand, I know that the air force dismantled the episode in seconds, and soldiers up the ground every circuit, in order to understand what happened and how.
Are you talking about the BBC. Former chief of General staff Dan Halutz said at the time that the air force is generally important in modern warfare.
Dan Halutz said. Said failed Second Lebanon war. My opinion about Dan Halutz known. The value of the air force nobody is trying to belittle. This is the fastest and strategically an effective means of response in such situations. You can’t use ground forces, because it would have required calling up reservists. But if, God forbid, we’ll face the face of war – I hope that despite the rating that I stated earlier, war can still be avoided – will have to use all the forces: land, sea, air. It will be a very hard war, and it is obvious that only the air force with the task, she will not do it.
You say that war is inevitable, and hope that cost.
My grades tend to make excuses. In 2005 I wrote a letter to Dan Haluco that the approaching war in Lebanon that need to transfer parts of Judea and Samaria that it is necessary to train soldiers. Now I have a year and a half talking about what the clouds are gathering. Next week the Prime Minister will be in Munich at conference on safety issues. It must be very hard to say to Putin that it is necessary to stop Iran. Yes, it’s hard and unpleasant for Russia, but we must convey to them that in case of war they will be even harder and nastier.
There is a possibility to affect the United States?
First of all, we must remember that a key player is now Russia, while the basis of our power is the United States. That is why I am disappointed with the Americans. Trump is engaged in «nuclear deal» and its correction. Wonderful. But say something in Russian and about the spread of Iranian influence in Siri. We are not asking Americans to send troops here, do not need no favors. But tell me something, mark its position.
They don’t do it?
As far as I know, no. They are out of the game. They are limited to generalities about what true commitment to ensure Israel’s security. Well, if you care about Israel’s security, take measures to stop a major war. And this war can hurt not only Israel. Since we are talking about the threat to regional stability, and Iran is certainly a danger – it might hurt Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Egypt, then Hamas in Gaza will follow. This is a war, the development and the consequences of which, now one can not predict, but obviously, the thing nobody wants. Even if you don’t stop until late.
Excessive optimism you are infected.
No. I am sometimes criticized for not being intimidated. But I’m not intimidated, but just look facts in the face. And, unfortunately, the overall picture is far from being able to be optimistic. The incident late last week is over, but the overall situation is becoming increasingly tense and we are only at the beginning of a major crisis. It is obvious to everyone who can stop the development of the crisis, but he who can, does.
You are a member of the Knesset’s foreign Affairs and defense. From a military point of view Israel is ready for war?
Yeah. You can always be prepared better, but in General – Yes, we’re ready.
The 2006 lessons learned?
You know my opinion about the war. I believe that it was possible to achieve a much better military result.
Even though the level of preparedness?
Even at that level of readiness. There was a failure of the chief of the General staff, which dragged behind a political leadership of the country down a blind alley and came to more than the monthly war. It was possible in two weeks to get a «picture of victory». I repeat – this can be achieved in two weeks. Today the situation is completely different. The current chief of the General staff adheres to the concept of fast end of war, the apparent victory. Gadi Gadi eizenkot does not hesitate to say that the war must be in enemy territory, and it is not a strategy Ben-Gurion, this is our strategy. If war begins, it should finish quickly, and for this it is necessary to use all the power that is. From this point of view, «Indestructible rock» is a failure. The state of Israel over 50 days of fussing with a terrorist organization, ran into the tunnels, which did not know what to do. It is a complete failure from a military point of view. And it is doubly a failure, given that we are talking about the era that followed the Second Lebanon war. The judge Grapes wrote in his report to the Commission that it is necessary to apply the full force and active. Gadi Gadi eizenkot in the absence of a defence of the doctrine of the IDF itself had prepared a document on the principles of war.
By the way why don’t we have a defense doctrine?
Because it needs to write to the Prime Minister. And he prefers to speak. Says says says. A document no.
You know, every time he sees me at meetings, you already know what will be my question, «What is your defense doctrine?»He says that he writes that will be that.
How do you explain this?
Defense doctrine is a binding thing. She must comply, it is necessary to be improved, it should be discussed. Our Prime Minister prefers to say that he is «Mr. safety» and make decisions such as those taken during the «Unbreakable rock.» Even the state Comptroller wrote that the strategy was a failure.
The Minister of defense you rely?
Yeah. We have many differences, we are not of one political camp, but, having met him in the Knesset after the escalation of tensions in the North, I approached him and shook his hand. Absolutely competent and accurate conflict management. In General, when making defence decisions, Lieberman relies on the army, and rightly so, as there is someone to rely on. This Gadi Gadi eizenkot, and his Deputy, Aviv Kohavi, and generals. The wisdom of a political leader is that he sees smart people around him, consults with them and listen to them. Lieberman does. We have many differences. I strongly disagree with him regarding the death penalty…
Moral reasons or practical?
Moral, but in this case more practical. The death penalty is not for the benefit of the security of Israel, it hurts the security, it is not fighting terror, and catalyzes it. But these differences, I must say that as Minister of defense of Lieberman, I appreciate.
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