Gantz warns of Gaza ground offensive

A ground invasion in Gaza is likely in the future, the IDF’s Chief of Staff suggested this week.

Benny Gantz said: “We will need to go into the tunnels of Gaza, into the fox holes and the villages … We can’t only play video games … it requires physical presence on the ground and that’s what we need to prepare our forces for.”

Gantz, who was speaking at the annual Herzliya Conference, said that following an intolerable prior situations, four months after Operation Pillar of Defence it was clear that “the goal of that operation was completely achieved” as could be seen from the absolute quiet in the south, save for one incident which was under investigation.

But, he added, “We are prepared just as we were to act should it become ­necessary.”

Surveying all the threats facing Israel, he commented: “The chances of war against us in the visible future are low, but there is a high probability of ­deterioration.”

He said that Syria is “liquid, unstable, dangerous”, and that the Egyptian-ruled Sinai Peninsula is “fertile ground for activities against us … Fertile ground for terrorists”.

The Herzliya Conference, which is one of Israel’s most prestigious politics and defence gatherings, also focused on cyber threats facing the country. Yoram Hacohen, who heads the Law, Information and Technology Authority at Israel’s Justice Ministry, surprised an audience with his frank assessment.

“As much as we hear of Israel being a cyber security superpower, we are not succeeding,” he said, referring to a “terrible phenomenon when systems with very sensitive information have no security”. He commented: “[I]t’s like having a business in a building without strong walls.”

Avi Hasson, chief scientist at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour, said that the “bad news” is that Israel is “not there yet”, explaining that there are “technological gaps which are very ­significant”.