Kochavi: Iran is the most dangerous country in the Middle East

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Despite its distance from Israel, Iran is the most dangerous country in the Middle East, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Sunday evening. “Iran has become the most dangerous country in the Middle East,” Kohavi says at a ceremony marking Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate, an entirely new position on the General Staff, which will focus principally on Israel’s fight against Iran. “It’s made significant progress with its nuclear program, but the nuclear [threat] is no longer the only threat. Iran also possesses conventional weapons,” Kochavi said, adding that while “it is located in the third circle, but is highly effective in influencing the first and second circle,” he said referring to financing terror groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. Speaking at the ceremony, Kalman said that the reality of the region “has not been static, but very dynamic” and that while “the IDF has strengthened its position as a player in international security…faced with these challenges, the IDF is required to operate in a variety of arenas and dimensions.” Israel has warned repeatedly about Iran’s nuclear ambitions as well as aspirations of regional hegemony and has admitted to hundreds of airstrikes as part of its “war-between-wars” (known as MABAM in Hebrew) campaign to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the entrenchment of its forces in Syria where they could easily act against Israel. With more active and explosive fronts on Israel’s borders, with enemy arsenals turning groups like Hezbollah in terror armies, the guiding principle for the IDF’s Momentum multi-year plan is to win any future war as quickly as possible. The new directorate was formed as part of the IDF’s Momentum plan and under Kalman it will bolster the IDF’s attack capabilities, including by technological means for the IAF jets to destroy enemy targets, increase the military’s intelligence superiority and expand its intelligence gathering on the Islamic Republic including by satellites as well as bolster Israel’s cyber (both defensive and offensive) capabilities. And while Iran will be the directorate’s primary threat, it will also focus on other countries in the region that pose a threat to Israel. The “third circle” refers to three tiers of direct threats to Israel, the first being terror groups along Israel’s borders like Islamic Jihad and Hamas; the second being larger threats like Hezbollah and neighboring enemy militaries and the third being countries that do not share a border with Israel like Iran and Yemen. Hagay Hacohen contributed to this article.

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