Addressing the 11th Herzliya Conference Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, IDF Chief of General Staff, used the opportunity of the last public address of his army career to express supreme confidence in the army that he is leaving, and discuss the future preparations to protect the Jewish State against the revolutionary conditions of its neighbors and the wave of modern radicalism seeping through the Arab states. However, he assured that the Israeli army “knows its targets … I can tell you that the military is much stronger than all the processes we are going though.”
Briefly referring to the current situation in Egypt, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi said that he had been criticized how he did not see that this revolution coming. He replied that “no one is a prophet” and “no analyst or intelligence person had a crystal ball”. “If you think I need to know exactly what the Egyptian staff needs to know, while he was traveling from New York to Cairo when this was happening and he didn’t know either.” At the end of the day, the internet and social networks are empowering the people and as a result, Israel needed to ask if this would lead to a “domino effect”.
Mr. Ashkenazi stressed that beyond the changes and the strategic meaning of these changes, “Israel is in the middle of the reality” of the tensions that its Middle Eastern neighbors are living in. He noted that with the new reality currently faced by Israel; the country and the army needed to be prepared on all fronts. He explained the need to understand the new system of resistance of the Arab terrorist movements and the countries that harbor them. He added that it was their tragic encounters with Israel on the battlefield that caused them to change their strategy. “They are trying to create a system of attrition.”
There exists the need to build a strong and “organized civilian home-front”, mainly focusing on changing the perceptions of Israel and the IDF. “It’s not enough to organize the home front or to have better weapons; we have to build very impressive fire power but we have to build ourselves non-firing resilience” said Ashkenazi.
Going forward, superior intelligence was crucial so that Israel’s top quality arsenal would be aimed properly towards the necessary targets. “We need to put a big emphasis on intelligence so that we can see the target before hand.” Within this point, he also stressed the need to prepare properly for war – “not only to practice and train but to campaign for conventional war.
about: The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel’s national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country’s public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.