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Graduating Israeli pilots might have to attack Iran, says outgoing defense minister

Over the past two years, the IDF has become a credible military threat to Iran’s nuclear sites

Israeli Air Force pilots throw their caps in the air during a graduation ceremony at the Hatzerim Air Force base, Dec. 28, 2022. (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told graduating pilots of the Israeli Air Force on Wednesday that they could be involved in attacking Iran in two to three years.

Speaking at a pilot graduation course at Hatzerim Airbase in southern Israel, in what could be his final address as defense minister, Gantz noted that “Israel has significantly increased its preparedness in recent years and is preparing for the possibility of an attack on Iran.”

“You may cross the sky to the east in two or three years and take part in an attack on nuclear sites in Iran, for which we are preparing,” he told the graduates.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog also recently said the IAF is capable of attacking at “any time and by any means, including Iran,” and departing Prime Minister Yair Lapid spoke of Israel’s abilities to conduct long-range air strikes.

Over the past two years, the Israel Defense Forces has become a credible military threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear sites. By improving its capabilities, Israel is prepared to launch an attack on the Iranian regime, which has not been willing to sign any deal that could potentially hinder its nuclear ambitions.

The IDF has taken ownership of attacks against Iranian arms shipments in Syria, which were headed toward Iranian-backed militias – the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group, in particular. 

“Others of you may have to fly deep into territory in Lebanon and Syria or head out on missions to rescue Jews around the world. I believe in your ability to succeed in these missions, not only because of the excellent aircraft you will fly in, but because of your morals and professionalism,” Gantz said.

At the ceremony, 41 pilots, including two women, graduated the three-year-long IAF Pilots Course, which trained the cadets as combat officers and conferred upon them degrees from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid addressed the graduates in person, with the following speech:

The State of Israel is stronger than all its enemies. We will not hesitate to use force to maintain the security of our civilians. Our enemies must know that at any given moment, we are more powerful, intelligent and disciplined than they are. Our enemies must know that we will not hesitate to dispatch the helicopters, aircraft and the IAF’s pilots to defend Israel from both near and distant threats.”

Our enemies – and not only them – must know that if our military were not lawful and ethical, we would not achieve triumph in wars and would not have allies in battles that are vital for our safety. Two weeks ago, we conducted a joint large-scale exercise with the U.S. Air Force. The exercise, which simulated a strike thousands of kilometers from Israel’s borders, was the first of a series of exercises planned to be held in the near future.

Our enemies must know that we will not stand idly by in the face of threats that we see as existential. I discussed this with the incoming prime minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu. It is one of the few topics on which there’s a consensus among the Israeli public. No Israeli government will agree to the Iranian regime acquiring nuclear weapons. If it is necessary to act, we will act.

If you would like to understand what we mean when we refer to Israeli deterrence, look left and right. You are the Israeli deterrence. You are the reason Khamenei in Iran, Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon and Yahya Sinwar in Gaza fail to sleep at night. Pilots and navigators, I salute you. We are proud of you. We trust you. Take care of yourselves.

Iran has announced that it is producing enriched uranium at 60% purity at the country’s underground Fordo nuclear plant, in addition to the work being carried out at its Natanz plant.

A 60% level of enrichment is a short step from 90% purity, or weapons-grade level, and at least one nuclear bomb.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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