In battling the political echelon for defense budget increases on Sunday, the commander of the Israel Air Force, Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, reminded everyone that the same planes used to attack Gaza over the summer could be called upon at any moment to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“There’s no one in this room who’d be prepared to ride in a car as old as our planes,” Eshel said in remarks carried by Israel’s Channel 2 News. “Yesterday these planes were in Gaza, and tomorrow we may send them to Tehran.”
Israel’s national budget has been a source of great tension in the wake of the summer’s Gaza war.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid has vowed not to raise taxes to cover the expense of the offensive against Gaza’s Hamas rulers. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu insists that in addition to covering the Gaza war, Israel needs to pour billions of additional shekels into the defense budget in order to effectively tackle a wide range of pressing security threats.
Netanyahu remains committed to preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons at any cost, and maintaining Israel’s air superiority is key to following through on that promise.
With Iran remaining defiant in its quest for an atomic bomb, Eshel’s comment was seen in local media as a hint that Israel could be preparing to strike the Islamic Republic in the very near future.