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Israel’s army chief stands alone against security threats

The combination of the American withdrawal from Syria and the political stalemate in Israel leaves the entire burden of Israel’s security on the shoulders of IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) accompanied by the Chief of General Staff of the Israeli army Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi (L) visits an Israeli military base near the city of Petah Tikva, on January 30 2019. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
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The chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, broke a long silence on Oct. 24 to warn against a possible deterioration into war on several fronts. “The situation is tense and fragile,” Kochavi told military affairs correspondents. “We are dealing with a large number of enemies.” Kochavi added that the silence along Israel’s borders was illusory and that a sudden conflagration could spread to the entire front.

Up until recent months, the IDF had assessed that the various fronts were not connected or dependent on each other, and that a clash with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza would not necessarily affect the northern front or vice versa. This assessment is shifting. The IDF must now quickly prepare for the possibility that the next confrontation on the northern front will almost immediately ignite the southern front and could potentially spark confrontations on additional ones — not just with Hezbollah, but also with Syria and Iran. Other potential threats could even emerge from the southern branch of the Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula or from a maritime terror attack on Israel’s Western sea front. Add in that Iran is growingly daring and the IDF assumes that the next attack on Syrian territory will trigger an immediate Iranian military retaliation, and it is clear why warning bells were ringing this week at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.

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