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War With Iran 'Inevitable,' Former Israeli Defense Chief Says

Newsmax | August 10 2006

TEL AVIV, Israel -- War between Iran and Israel is "inevitable," a former deputy defense minister retired Maj. Gen. Efraim Sneh told NewsMax in an exclusive interview from his home near Tel Aviv.

Sneh, who ran Israel's defense ministry under Labor Party Prime Minister Ehud Barak when Israel pulled out of Lebanon in May 2000, was spending time with his family before rejoining his paratroop unit on the Lebanese border.

"At 62, I am a retired general, but I felt so strongly about this war that I volunteered to rejoin my paratrooper unit," he said. A medical doctor by profession, Sneh commanded his unit's medical corps during the toughest battle of the 1973 war.

Sneh has been warning about the Hezbollah buildup in south Lebanon for many years, and opposed his government's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, even though he was then in charge of the Defense Ministry.

"I warned six years ago that unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon would bring Hezbollah to our border, with all their military capability," he said. "I was a lonely voice when the choir of Israeli politics said 'let's get out of the Lebanon mud.' I said, 'The mud will run after you.'"

Warning about Hezbollah while serving in the government put him in an awkward position. "Because Barak was prime minister as well as defense minister, as his deputy I was actually running the defense ministry," Sneh told NewsMax.

"I said we shouldn't withdraw, because Hezbollah rockets would bring us back to invade Lebanon, and require a big ground operation to clean up. That's what we are doing right now," he added.

He said he felt vindicated – not only by what is happening in Lebanon, but because he has been warning about the threat from Iran.

"Since 1993 I have been warning that Iran is the only enemy that poses an existential threat to Israel," he said.

The current war in Lebanon was actually a war by Iran against Israel, he believes.

"I don't have any doubt that after this round is over, there will be another round, because the war with Iran is not over. When you have the president of the world's fourth largest oil supplier preaching repeatedly that Israel should be wiped off the map, a collision is unavoidable."

In speeches and writings over the past six years, Sneh predicted in detail the scenario that has played itself out between Hezbollah and Israel over the past four weeks.

"But I don't know the scenario for round 2 or round 3," he said. "I just know that they will come."

Asked how the current round of fighting in Lebanon would end, he replied: "slow and tough."

Sneh has traveled repeatedly to Washington over the past 13 years with other Knesset members from different parties, to warn about Iran's threat to Israel and America.

He believes Iran would use nuclear weapons if it acquired them.

"That is the assumption we have to make," he said. "When they say they want to wipe Israel off the map, why shouldn't I take their word seriously? I don't have the privilege not to do so."



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