(JTA) – Israel maintains the capability to strike Iran’s nuclear sites on its own, Israel’s military chief said.
Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, speaking to multiple media outlets in time for Israel’s Independence Day on Tuesday, said Israel could handle Iran on its own.
"We have the ability to deal with the dangers Iran presents to us," he told the Ynet news site. Similar remarks were reported on Israel Radio and in Haaretz, suggesting Gantz wanted the Iran message above all to make headlines.
Gantz said Israel still favors sanctions and pressure on Iran, as well as "operational capabilities," which he would not specify to Ynet. They could be a euphemism for reports of Israel’s responsibility for cyberattacks on Iran, and for bombings aimed at its nuclear facilities and its scientists.
He also told Ynet, "Iran can achieve nuclear capabilities by the end of this year, but that does not mean it will."
Israel’s military and intelligence establishments have generally deferred more to the Obama administration’s advocacy of exhausting all possibilities before launching an Iran strike, while Israel’s political leadership has emphasized the dangers of allowing Iran’s suspected program to continue apace.
Gantz told Israel Radio that there were "extensive discussions" between Israel’s military and political establishments about Iran, but he would not describe them as "disagreement."
Gantz in interviews also suggested that he would change the army protocol under which a flag is placed on the grave of the most recent Jewish casualty as part of Memorial Day commemorations.
In a traditional ceremony taking place the week prior to Memorial Day, which this year fell on Monday, Gantz laid a wreath on the grave of Lt. Col. Shlomo Nitzani, who was not the most recent casualty, but whose Jewishness was not in question. The family of the most recent casualty, Yevgeny Tolochko, raised an outcry, and Nitzani’s family also said they were outraged.