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January 18, 2016 3:17 pm

IDF Chief: Lifting of Sanctions Will Increase Iranian Funding, Influencing of Palestinians, Israeli Arabs

avatar by Ruthie Blum

IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eizenkot addressing the INSS conference in Tel Aviv on Monday. Photo: INSS.

IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eizenkot addressing the INSS conference in Tel Aviv on Monday. Photo: INSS.

The head of the Israeli army said the implementation of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers constitutes a “strategic turning point,” which leaves room for hope but still requires special attention to Tehran’s activities, including efforts to influence Hamas in Gaza and Arab citizens in Israel, the Hebrew news site nrg reported.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot made this and other statements about the security challenges facing Israel in the coming year at the annual Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv on Monday.

Referring to this weekend’s announcement of the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed between Iran and world powers in July, and the accompanying lifting of sanctions that have been in place for the past decade, Eizenkot said he has no doubt that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are still intact.

“[Its] efforts to achieve regional hegemony will not diminish any time soon,” he said, adding, “Iran is waging a war against Israel via proxies. Its intervention in Syria is not only economic and political, but also practical – with Iranian commanders leading the combat and with the funding of Hezbollah and Shiite militias.”

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While on the subject of Hezbollah, Eizenkot said that it is “a key point of reference” where threats to Israeli security are concerned. But, he added, the IDF General Staff has conveyed its own threatening messages to the Lebanese terror organization.

“Hezbollah understands well the significance of an escalation in southern Lebanon, and grasps how Israel’s operational and intelligence have improved over the past decade. For all its arrogant talk, Hezbollah understand the penetrability of intelligence, and sees the IDF as a very strong army.”

While noting that some 130 Iranian fighters have been killed in Syria, and hundreds of others have been wounded, he also noted that Iran has stepped up its financial assistance to Palestinians and Arab Israelis as well – ostensibly to recruit them as proxies. And, he estimated, “The more its economic situation improves, the greater the resources Iran will pour into this endeavor.”

As for the current wave of terrorist attacks in Israel and the West Bank against Israelis that have been enduring mostly unabated for the past four months, Eizenkot said the security apparatus was “committed to providing security and defense for the population.”

“The terrorism in the Judea and Samaria area has been going on for years, and one doesn’t have to be a great strategist to assume that it will continue for many more years,” he said.

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