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October 16, 2019 1:18 pm

‘Security Challenges’ Facing Israel Prompt IDF Chief to Provide Rare Briefing to Top Netanyahu Rival

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Former Israeli armed forces chief of staff Benny Gantz speaks at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany, Feb. 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Andreas Gebert.

In a rare move, the leader of Israel’s centrist Blue and White party, Benny Gantz, met formally with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Wednesday to discuss what have been described as major developments in the country’s security situation.

The IDF said the meeting took place place “in light of security challenges and regional developments.”

Sources close to Gantz, a former head of the IDF himself,  said he officially requested the sit-down because he wanted “a direct update from the chief of staff on the latest developments in the area.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly approved the meeting.

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Both Netanyahu and Kochavi have recently warned of a deterioration in the security situation due to heightened tensions between the US and Iran.

Furthermore, President Donald Trump’s sudden withdrawal of American troops from Syria, effectively giving a green light to Turkey’s offensive against the Syrian Kurds, has badly rattled Israel’s security establishment, where there is fear the fickle US leader might abandon other major allies in the region.

Earlier this month, Netanyahu convened the security cabinet for the first time since the inconclusive September Knesset elections, which left neither the current prime minister nor Gantz with a clear path to forming the next government, unless they were to establish a unity coalition.

The security cabinet meeting lasted five hours and reportedly concentrated on concerns that Iran might directly attack Israeli targets as it did a Saudi Arabian oil facility recently.

In a speech last week, Kochavi said, “This past summer was packed with security incidents, above and below, in near and far arenas. We keep our eyes open, make daily assessments, and make professional and responsible decisions.”

“We will not allow harm to the State of Israel and, if it occurs, we will respond strongly,” he pledged.

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