With Gen. Bar as new IAF chief, 3 top IDF officers favor pre-empting nuclear-armed Iran. Bennett at UN: “We can prevail.”
Gen. Tomer Bar was named Israel’s new Air Force Chief on Monday, Sept. 28, just hours before Naftali Bennett’s first address to the UN General Assembly as Israel’s prime minister. This move served to fortify Bennett’s comments on Iran: “Words won’t stop centrifuges. Iran has reached a watershed moment, but so have we,” he said. We will never let Iran have a nuclear bomb. If we use our resourcefulness, we can prevail. And that is what we intend to do.”
The new air force chief’s appointment may have surprised Tehran as it ponders a possible Israeli military assault on its nuclear program. The post was widely expected to go to Maj. Gen. Tal Kalman, head of the IDF’s Iran Command and former head of its Strategic Division and the Air Force staff.
His views were made known last March when he was quoted as saying: “Iran is not a specific operational challenge; it belongs to the floor above the military, as a challenge to our national security perception.” Kalman added: “Our discourse on Iran has in recent years been tinged with some cynicism because it is often entangled in other issues, but I truly believe that the challenge is posed by a state with the potential of a leading regional power.”
The new air force chief stressed that this was not a fictional scenario, but a real, synchronized and coordinated plan of action that it was incumbent on the entire military to prepare for. This plan is not new. It is the essence of the ideas Chief of Staff Gen. Kohavi has promoted since 2004, 17 years ago, when the Iranian command was first created. Since then, it has gathered dust in General Staff drawers along with rolled up maps, except for a lone voice which a year later, urged Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear program.