WikiLeaks: Israel Preparing for ‘Large Scale War’
Israel’s army chief told a US Congress delegation in late 2009 he was preparing for a large war in the Middle East, probably against Hamas or Hezbollah, leaked US diplomatic cables showed on Sunday.
“I am preparing the Israeli army for a large scale war, since it is easier to scale down to a smaller operation than to do the opposite,” Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi was quoted as saying in a cable from the US embassy in Tel Aviv.
The document, dated November 15, 2009, was quoted Sunday in Norwegian by Oslo-based daily Aftenposten, which said it had obtained WikiLeaks’ entire cache of 251,187 leaked US embassy cables.
While the Iranian threat was grave, Ashkenazi told the Americans that the threat from Hamas and Hizbullah, which were funded by Iran, was most acute since due to their proximity to Israel, their rockets would be more accurate.
“The rocket threat against Israel is more serious than ever. That is why Israel is putting such emphasis on rocket defence,” Ashkenazi told the US delegation led by Democrat Ike Skelton, the cable showed.
In his comments made nearly a year after Israel on December 27, 2008 launched the deadly Gaza war, Ashkenazi said “Israel is on a collision course also with Hamas, which rules Gaza.”
“Hamas will have the possibility to bombard Tel Aviv, with Israel’s highest population concentration,” he was quoted as saying.
In the cable leaked Sunday Ashkenazi is quoted saying Israel next time will not accept “any restrictions on warfare in populated areas,” and insisted the army had never intentionally attacked civilian targets.
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Turning to Iran, Ashkenazi said that Israel would have 10 to 12 minutes to prepare after its radar systems detected an Iranian missile fired toward the country. He said that Teheran had more than 300 missiles capable of reaching Israel.
Ashkenazi also gave some rare insight into how Israel gathers intelligence on Hizbullah and locates targets in Lebanon. Israel frequently sends drones over Lebanon to identify potential targets, he said, calling their use a “success.”
In addition, he revealed that the IDF closely cooperates with the US National Security Agency, which gathers signal intelligence such as communications.
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