Outgoing chief of staff details how Israel decided to take Iran head on
Jack Guez (AFP/Archives)
Outgoing Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot told The New York Times that Israel struck over 1,000 Iranian targets in Syria in the last two-and-a-half years since identifying a pointed strategy by the Islamic Republic to expand its influence in the region.
“We struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit,” Eisenkot is quoted disclosing in the report published Saturday.
The decorated commander decided to implement his “Dahiya doctrine” or “the campaign against wars” that aims to wear down an enemy over a longer period of time in order to prevent the onset of a full-scale war.
The thinking led Eisenkot to become the first bold enough to take the Islamic Republic head on instead of merely focusing on targeting the Lebanese-based militant group Hezbollah’s activities in Syria.
Iran poured some $16 billion into Syria over seven years, according to Israeli assessments, which contributed to Israel’s strategy at the start of 2017 to perform near-daily attacks.
“We operated under a certain threshold until two-and-a-half years ago, and then we noticed a significant change in Iran’s strategy. Their vision was to have significant influence in Syria by building a force of up to 100,000 Shiite fighters from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. They built intelligence bases and an air force base within each Syrian air base. And they brought civilians in order to indoctrinate them,” he told The Times.
The chief of staff explains that the crafty commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force Qassim Suleimani failed in his vision due to overconfidence and underestimating Israel’s readiness to respond in military action.
“His error was choosing a playground where he is relatively weak,” Eisenkot says. “We have complete intelligence superiority in this area. We enjoy complete aerial superiority. We have strong deterrence and we have the justification to act.”
He also details Hezbollah’s failure in the campaign to retake the Golan through a three-pronged strategy: manufacturing precision missile facilities, constructing cross-border attack tunnels, and creating a united front from the Syrian border as well.
Last month Israel revealed the tunnels that it discovered on its northern border and successfully sabotaged.
Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, 54, is due to replace Gadi Eisenkot as chief of staff on January 15.
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