Senior IDF officer refers to military situation in various sectors. 'No soldier serves in mixed gender units against his will.'

A senior IDF officer said in a discussion with military correspondents that despite the attack in Syria last month and the diplomatic fallout over it with Russia, security coordination between Israel and Russia is very good. Once every fortnight, he says, the head of the operations branch in the IDF visits Russia to coordinate moves and, similarly, his Russian counterpart visits Israel to coordinate.

"IDF operational capability in Syria has not changed but we do not intend acting overtly there with all the bodies and countries involved in warfare. We have set ourselves a number of goals: no overt involvement, no toleration of Hezbollah arms transfers to Lebanon, responding to every violation of Israeli sovereignty and restoring the UNDOF UN force to its positions in the north and center of the Golan Heights," said the officer. "Very senior Syrian army officers gave the authorization to use Sarin gas against the civilian population and this indicates the pressure they are under."

The officer also referred to Lebanon and the Hezbollah and stated that major resources are still being allocated to combating this organization. Despite the fact that it has been seriously weakened both in numbers of combat personnel and economically by the war in Syria, it is still a major threat to Israel. However the peace in the north is due to the enemy perceiving the IDF as a strong deterrent and a sophisticated and powerful opponent.

The officer said that the IDF had improved its level of readiness as well as the equipment it provides to soldiers. 230 million NIS have been invested in improving military bases around the country and new battalions have been stationed around the borders. Over the last few years the number of religious female soldiers has grown from 900 to 2200 high quality girls as well as 14 haredi women doing high quality intelligence work and contributing to the army.

The officer referred to the confrontation with the religious public over mixed gender units and emphasized that "no soldier will serve in mixed gender units against his will. 25000 soldiers received an exemption from shaving their beards. All the disputes are external and not within the army."

Regarding Judea and Samaria the officer expressed a certain amount of pessimism. "The fact that 7 Israelis have been murdered here since the beginning of the year and 6 of the murderers had Israeli ID cards is a cause of concern for the heads of the security forces. 1100 suspects have been arrested since the beginning of the year and that means 1100 potential terrorists. "We see a new pattern of terror and we are reorganizing to deal with it."

With respect to the Gaza front, the officer said that the election of a murderer like Yahya Sinwar to leadership symbolizes the Hamas's intent, but "we don't expect there to be an escalation when we start erecting the tunnel barrier on the Gazan border. No soldier of civilian has been hurt since the Protective Edge campaign."

The officer says that there it is unreasonable to assume that war will break out but concedes that one tactical action could develop into a wider incident and this is what we are preparing for at all times. We are prepared so that they will not test us," concluded the officer.