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IDF Chief of Staff: ‘Central Goal Is to Minimize Iran’s Presence in the Middle East’

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avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israel’s Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi delivers a joint statement with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Corinna Kern

With the new year about to arrive, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi outlined the security establishment’s strategy of countering Iran, saying that its “central goal is to minimize the Iranian presence in the Middle East.”

Speaking with Israeli news site Walla, Kochavi said that over the past year, “We accelerated our preparations for activity in Iran. This is a considerable part of the expansion of the security budget that has only recently been agreed upon for this issue.”

“This is extremely complicated work,” he said, involving expanded intelligence operations and operational capabilities.

All of this relates to Israel’s “war between the wars,” which involves confronting Iranian activities in Syria via airstrikes, as well as acting against Iran’s expansionism and nuclear program via intelligence operations.

These activities, said Kochavi, “have several goals. They are not only against Iran. The central goal is to minimize the Iranian presence in the Middle East, with emphasis on Syria.”

However, he added, such operations are not confined to Syria, but take place “across the Middle East,” including “against Hamas. Also against Hezbollah. They are also against the Iranians. And sometimes against other organizations.”

These operations, the chief of staff asserted, have had “pretty good” results, though they are “not perfect.”

“The most important achievement is that we very much reduced the Iranian presence and their fighting abilities in the northern arena; certainly in relation to what they planned on,” he said.

“It’s not that they disappeared from there,” Kochavi cautioned. “The Iranian presence is still there. Therefore, we continue with these activities.”

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