In a Sept. 5 address to the Institute for National Security Studies,
Eisenberg provided one of the starkest forecasts by the military in more
years, Middle East Newsline reported. The general, who military sources said gave a speech approved by the
General Staff and the censor's office, said such U.S.-supported military
powers as Egypt and Turkey, under the guise of democracy, were turning
against Israel in 2011.
"After the Arab Spring, we assess that a winter of radical Islam will
arrive and as a result the possibility for a multi-front war has increased
including the potential use of weapons of mass destruction," Eisenberg said.
Over the last four months, Israeli military commanders have repeatedly
warned of regional instability. But this marked the first time that a senior
commander cited Egypt and Turkey as prospective belligerents. Egypt receives
$1.3 billion in annual U.S. aid, and Turkey has been a leading NATO ally.
"In Egypt, the army is collapsing under the burden of regular security
operations," Eisenberg said. "And this is reflected in the loss of control
in the Sinai and the turning of the border with Israel
into a terror border, with the possibility that Sinai will fall under the
control of an Islamic entity."
Eisenberg said Iran was growing stronger and more reckless. He said
Iran's nuclear program was intensifying and expressed concern that Israel
could be attacked by weapons of mass destruction in any future conflict.
"This raises the likelihood of an all-out, total war, with the
possibility of weapons of mass destruction being used," Eisenberg said.
Iran has been bolstering Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza
Strip. Eisenberg said Hizbullah was also dominating the Lebanese Army and
had gained access to its weapons.
"In Lebanon, Hizbullah is growing stronger within government arms, but
it has not lost its desire to harm Israel, and the ties with Turkey aren't
at their best," Eisenberg said.
The general also disclosed that Hamas enhanced its missiles and rockets
over the last year. He said the Israeli military has determined that Hamas
was using an unidentified projectile with a larger conventional warhead.
"We discovered a new weapon, and as result of this we instructed the
public to hide under two roofs, rather than only one," Eisenberg said.
Military sources said the remarks by Eisenberg were meant to warn the
Israeli public of a regional war that would include massive missile strikes.
On Sept. 6, the Home Front Command and Israel Atomic Energy Commission
conducted an exercise called Fernando, meant to simulate a missile strike on
the nation's nuclear reactor in Dimona.
In an unprecedented move, the Atomic Energy Commission released a
statement to assuage Israelis that Dimona could withstand a missile strike
by Hamas, Iran or Syria. Fernando, the first such exercise since 2004, was
said to have tested an Israeli response to an enemy missile that struck the
"The chance that a problem will occur and radioactive material will
escape at a level that will endanger the public is extremely small," the
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has sought to play down Eisenberg's
remarks. Barak, also believed to have approved Eisenberg's speech, said
Israel has maintained deterrence against its enemies, even those with
chemical weapons arsenals.
"We are convinced that our enemies wouldn't dare use chemical weapons
against Israel, in the event that they have such [weapons], neither now nor
in the future," Barak said. "They know well why they shouldn't even think of
using chemical weapons against Israel."
But Barak expressed concern over the deteriorating relations between
Israel and Turkey, strategic allies from 1996 until 2008. Barak urged the
government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to reduce tension.
"Israel and Turkey are the two strongest, and in many ways the two most
important countries in the Middle East," Barak said. "We have our
differences, and even in differences it is important that both sides use
their heads and not their guts. It would be better for everyone and for
stability in the region,"