New Israeli special forces command escalates covert action
May 30, 2012 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In recent months, intelNews has paid particular attention to senior Israeli security officials, or former officials, who routinely caution against plans for an Israeli military attack on Iran. These include Amos Yadlin, former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence directorate, and former Mossad Directors Meir Dagan and Tamir Pardo, who believes that a nuclear-armed Iran “would not be an existential threat to Israel”. But such current or former Israeli officials, who view a possible Israeli military attack on Iran as catastrophic, should not be seen as advocating pacifist views. On the contrary, they caution against an open Israeli military attack on Iran, favoring instead a covert-action approach. There are now signs that, under pressure by the United States, the Israeli administration of Benjamin Netanyahu is gradually heeding such advice. One such indication is to be found in the increasingly instrumental role played by Benny Gantz, the Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. Lieutenant-General Gantz, who rose to the position of Israel’s most powerful soldier in February of 2011, arguably represents the most hawkish wing of the Israeli military. He is also one of the most vocal adherents of Israeli military supremacy in the Middle East ‘by any means necessary’. In April, he spoke publicly to confirm that, under his leadership, the Israeli military has “escalated special operations beyond the country’s borders”. Since then, he has refused to provide details of such operations, which he has described as “highly classified”. But an article published earlier this month in The Jerusalem Post discusses the rise in Israeli covert operations in the context of a new Israeli special forces command called Deep Corps. According to The Post, the new command was founded in December under the close supervision of Gantz, who is himself a former paratrooper and a member of Israel’s elite Sayaret Matkal unit, which is modeled after the British Army’s Special Air Service. Deep Corps, which is currently under the command of another Sayaret Matkal former member, Major General Shai Avitai, is reportedly designed to integrate all Israeli special forces units in a single command. Its mission is to carry out “strategic strikes deep inside hostile territory”. In Gantz’s own words, Deep Corps is designed to strike “beyond the immediate and intermediate circles of enemy states, to the so-called outer circle of threats”. Such regions are said to include, not only the Middle East and its environs, but the Horn of Africa and even parts of Central Asia. The Post article explains that Gantz’s tactical philosophy is to deploy the new command in “the operational arena between wars”, namely “a war between wars, [which] is much more quiet and extends to much wider circles”. Gantz adds that, in his view, 2012 will be “a critical year in the confrontation with Iran”.