Israel’s military, struggling with a shooting war with Syria, has warned of an imminent multi-front conflict.
Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel issued one of the starkest warnings of an imminent war that could include Hizbullah and Syria. In an address to a combat air conference, Eshel said Israel faces a range of low- and high-intensity threats from virtually every front.
“It’s not as if we can say we have two weeks go prepare [for war],” Eshel said. “I am not sure we have two weeks to prepare.”
In an address on May 22 to the Fisher Brothers Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, Eshel said the next war with Hizbullah in Lebanon would exhaust the air force’s capabilities. He warned that the next war would include missile strikes on Israel’s cities, which would require a strategy to end fighting quickly.
“We have to be prepared to fight on three fronts simultaneously,” Eshel said. “We have to know to leap from one front to another.”
The address marked the latest in a series of high-level military warnings of an imminent war with Hizbullah or Syria. On May 21, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said Israel would not tolerate the nearly daily fire from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
Eshel cited the prospect that the war in Syria could spread to Israel. He said the military must be ready to fight within hours in response to strategic developments.
“Tomorrow, if Syria collapses, we could find ourselves in this whirlpool extremely quickly,” Eshel said. “It doesn’t mean that we will respond, but we have to be ready. It’s not enough that the system is ready. We also need plans.”
Eshel said Syria has undergone military modernization with advanced platforms from Russia. He cited Assad’s procurement of several air defense systems, including the S-300PMU2.
“From the small budget that Assad has, he has spent billions in the past few years to buy the best systems that the Russians can produce — the SA-22, SA-17, SA-24, the S-300 which is on it’s way,” Eshel said.
Eshel warned that Israel’s adversaries were working on counter-measures to Israel’s technological superiority. He said he was concerned over the military’s reliance on technology to win wars.
The Israel air force chief said Israel has not been tested in a real war for nearly 40 years. He said the wars against Hamas and Hizbullah since 2006 fell far short of a conflict with conventional militaries. “There are no planned wars,” Eshel said. “We have to be extremely flexible with a highly robust toolbox that could cope with surprises and failures.”