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June 16, 2015 3:06 pm

IDF Chief of Staff Warns 14% of Gazans Support ISIS, Says Iran Still Israel’s Main Threat

avatar by David Daoud

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Col. Gadi Eisenkot warned Knesset members of the growing support for ISIS among Gazans. PHOTO: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Col. Gadi Eizenkot warned Knesset members of the growing support for ISIS among Gazans. PHOTO: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Fourteen percent of Gazans support the bloodthirsty Islamic State terror group, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot told lawmakers at a Knesset hearing on Tuesday.

During a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Eisenkot warned that the security situation in the Gaza Strip has become increasingly complex, particularly in light of the conflicts between various terror organizations within the coastal enclave.

“There is a strengthening of organizations that are more radical than Hamas, and who are gaining a significant share of support,” said Eizenkot, according to Israel’s NRG news.

“Today, there is 14% support for ISIS in the [Gaza] Strip,” he said, using another name for the Islamic State.

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In response, said Eizenkot, “the IDF is making an effort to prevent the military buildup of those organizations and is operating against the expansion of tunnel activities.”

The general also warned about the strengthening of organizations associated with ISIS in the Sinai, on Israel’s southern front. He added that these groups were cooperating with terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.

Despite the growing threat from these Sunni Islamist groups, Eisenkot stressed that the Iranian nuclear program was Israel and the IDF’s main threat.

“This is a threat that will continue to occupy us for the next few years, particularly in the central focus of the preparedness and activities of Military Intelligence and the Air Force,” he said.

Eizenkot also addressed the bloody civil war now raging in Syria, saying that “without Hezbollah and Iran’s involvement in what is happening during the civil war in Syria, it it doubtful whether Assad’s regime would have been able to continue to exist or to hold on.” He added that, “to date, Hezbollah has been involved in the fighting in Syria with thousands of fighters.”

He said Iran was working to establish regional hegemony through involvement in different flash points in the Middle East, in order to influence events. Iran is active in Syria, Yemen and also the Gaza Strip, he said, with Hezbollah acting as its main proxy.

Because of that, “Hezbollah is the IDF’s main threat,” he said. “Hezbollah is investing tremendous efforts on the Syrian front, and since the fighting started in that country, hundreds of its fighters have been killed and the organization is in strategic distress.”

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