General Golan at JISS: Israel must do everything within its power to curb Iran’s ambitions to cement regional hegemony.
By Lilach Shoval, Daniel Siryoti, Eli Leon, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff
“The Israeli Air Force is at peak capability, with the best technological tools, the best aircraft in the world and the best pilots in the world,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday at the IAF’s pilot’s training graduation ceremony, held at the Hatzerim Air Base in southern Israel.
The prime minister lauded the corps’ “offensive and defensive capabilities and awesome firepower that can reach both short-range and distant targets, as needed.”
“We continue to face major challenges in the north, south and east,” Netanyahu told the newly inducted pilots. “On all these fronts, we find radical Islamist forces, which have already wreaked havoc in our region but not in our country.”
“We are an island in a very stormy sea,” Netanyahu continued. “We are defending our security on the basis of a very clear policy: We will not allow Iranian military forces to establish bases in Syria and attack us, and we will act to prevent the manufacture of precise and deadly weapons that could be aimed at us.”
Commenting on the growing tensions along the Israel-Gaza border, Netanyahu said, “Regarding the Gaza Strip: we want the local population to live its life peacefully, but the decision as to whether or not there’s peace and quiet in Gaza is, first and foremost, Gaza’s to make. We will neither allow nor tolerate any escalation on the part of Hamas or any other terrorist group against Israel. We will use all the means at our disposal to defend our sovereignty and the security of Israeli citizens.”
The prime minister further noted that Israel was “developing its strength on land, at sea and in the air, as well as in the intelligence and cyber arenas.”
“We frequently outpace the world in identifying and confronting new challenges. We did this with active defense systems, like the Iron Dome and other systems, and we are currently doing it with [terror] tunnels and we are proud, as we should be, of our technology.”
“We are now facing a new threat, a new challenge that many of you are familiar with – drones. Here as well we are at the forefront and the Israeli Air Force is adapting itself and developing the most advanced [counter] technology in the world,” Netanyahu said.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin also spoke at the ceremony.
“The Israeli Air Force is one of the best and most advanced air forces in the world,” Lieberman told the audience.
“If, heaven forbid, a new war erupts on the northern border, the results will be much more impressive. We will have to confront new challenges in the future unlike anything we’ve faced before. Naturally, the IAF will remain the military’s strike force,” he said.
Eizenkot told the pilots that Israel has “a strong army with a strong and precise air force. We rely on you to ensure Israel’s security.”
Norkin noted that IAF pilots may be required to operate beyond enemy lines.
“Over the past few months, your comrades have been flying fighter jets that have been striking [targets] in the Middle East, showing initiative and creativity. It won’t be long before you, too, will venture beyond enemy lines and I know I can trust you to carry out your missions,” he said.
Meanwhile, former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan said Wednesday that Israel must do everything within its power to curb Iran’s ambitions to cement regional hegemony.
Speaking at a conference hosted by the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, Golan, a member of the General Staff, said that Israel “is investing considerable efforts to stop Iran from gaining more influence in the region. This is a very serious thing and we can’t do it alone if we want this move to be effective.”