Following Barnea’s speech, which received significant media attention, the former “Israeli” Occupation Forces [IOF] Chief of Staff and Member of the Knesset, Gadi Eizenkot, joining the “State Camp” party also spoke at the conference. He spoke about a series of topics, including the escalating attacks in the West Bank areas, the “judicial amendments”, and of course, Iran and the “terrorism” it exports to the Middle East.
Regarding the wave of operations, Eizenkot said, “The challenge we face is to limit this phenomenon, provide a sense of security and prevent harm to the scale of the society’s values as a result of the war on terrorism. It is common for them to say that operations are a method of violent struggle and instilling fear in the hearts of ‘Israelis’ to achieve political goals, and there are also differences of opinion on this assumption, which I believe is now a thing of the past”.
“In the past decade, we have also seen Hezbollah and Hamas, who are changing and presenting a new perception of the concept of resistance, which is certainly not tactical, not to mention the goals they set for themselves or the way they operate. Also, because of the fact pointed out by the Mossad Director, they possess state-like capabilities due to the support of the countries that stand behind them”, the former Chief of Staff added.
“The state’s capabilities have been built, and I have been monitoring Hezbollah since 1982. There is no doubt that the organization has learned something. It has built methods of work that distinguishes armies, as well as cyber capabilities, command and control, computing, technology, drones and shooting capabilities that perhaps a limited number of countries in the world possess. But this is primarily due to the fact that their goals are extremely ambitious – ranging from establishing an Islamic caliphate, waging the holy war and ultimately the elimination of ‘Israel’”, Eizenkot pointed out.
In his address, Eizenkot also said, “In the past decade, geographical borders have been breached. It is also possible to see Hezbollah operating in an organized manner and leading a significant part of the counteroffensive in an attempt to restore the situation back to normal. It is also possible to see them operating in Yemen and sending their members to many places in the world”.
He went on to say, “Two threats represent a transition from ‘classical terrorism’ to a strategic concept. As the head of the Northern Command, I was always concerned about the presence of tunnels crossing the border from Lebanon into ‘Israel’, as was the case from the Gaza Strip. However, we did not find any. Only near the end of my tenure as Chief of Staff, we learned of the grand and ambitious plan of Iranian Quds Force, to carry out a very extensive operation in the border area, under their backing; so, tunnels, unlike those of Hamas, have been built, but rather vast tunnels that could bring thousands of fighters into the occupied territories in a very short period and allow them to bypass the separation barrier and initiate combat in the outskirts of the ‘Israeli’ settlement of Metula,” adding that “When they discuss their plan, they suggest that they we must do to the Jews what the Jews did to the Crusaders, and this indicates a certain way of thinking”.
Eisenkot shed light on Hezbollah’s preparations for a broad and comprehensive war and said, “As the tunnels, which were discovered and destroyed later on, were being built in the South, Hezbollah developed a plan that indicated a shift towards a broad strategic challenge. They did not want it to have only a tactical impact through a series of operations, but rather a strategic operation. When we finished the operation in the first week of 2019, it had been a year and a half since the digging first began. This demonstrates the patience, secrecy and a way of thinking that doesn't limit itself to carrying out tactical offensives to intimidate the entity’s ‘home front’ but rather aims to prepare a plan based on broad ambush, a maritime plan and the use of a wide range of firepower with its state-like capabilities”.
“Fortunately, this operation was discovered shortly before its end,” he said and continued, “This is a warning for future generations. Such concepts might be repeated in the future, and this has taught me primarily about the characteristics of sophisticated thinking of Qassem Soliemani and [Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan] Nasrallah and what they know and they are capable of doing”.
Eisenkot claimed in his speech that “the fact that ‘Israel’, in its seventy-fifth year of existence, still lacks an official concept of ‘national security’, is a serious flaw and a leadership failure that has persisted for generations; and now comes the political reality that greatly affects ‘national interests’, ‘national security’ policy and counter-terrorism policy”.
The former Chief of Staff went on to say, “Today, there is a significant gap and disconnection among government ministers, who present a completely separate perception from that of reality. Additionally, there is a political need that severely hampers the highly efficient organization of the army, the Shin Bet, the police and the 'civilian' administration, due to a political need, distributed between two ministers, and that harms that chain of command, the viability of the army, and some of the phenomena we see today. This is simply the sabotage of the great capability built by the army to combat terrorism”.
“We see the immense damage caused by this government in nine months. It is a damage that can continue and develop, and when this genie gets out of the bottle, it will take us many years to put it back in”, he concluded.