IDF chief to visit France and Poland to discuss Iranian threat

Military chief Aviv Kohavi is scheduled to travel to France and Poland next week to meet with his counterparts from the two European nations and discuss the Iranian and Hezbollah threat.the Israel Defense Forces said on Saturday.

In a statement, the IDF said the first official visits “take place as part of the strengthening of military cooperation between the IDF and the Polish and French Armed Forces.”

Kohavi will meet with the head of the Polish Armed Forces, Rajmund Andrzejczak, on Monday, and with the head of the French Armed Forces, Thierry Burkhard, on Wednesday.

Andrzejczak, among nine other chiefs of staff, participated last week in the IDF’s “International Operational Innovation Conference” in Israel. On the sidelines of the conference, Kohavi sat down with Andrzejczak for a brief courtesy meeting.

In Poland, Kohavi will also visit the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and hold a series of meetings with other Polish military officers “as part of cooperation between the two armies,” the IDF said.

In France, in addition to Burkhard, Kohavi will meet with other top French military officials.

During the visit, topics related to regional challenges will be discussed, including the threat of the Iranian regime and its terrorist proxies throughout the Middle East, the weaponization of the Hezbollah terrorist army, and security challenges on the Lebanese border.”, says the IDF statement.

France and Lebanon maintain close relations, as the Middle Eastern country was part of the French colonial empire in the early 20th century.

Kohavi will leave on Sunday and return to Israel on Thursday, according to the schedule published by the IDF. The visits to both nations are Kohavi’s first since she took office nearly four years ago.

In his absence, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Herzi Haleviwill assume the responsibilities of the military chief in Israel, according to the IDF.

The meetings come amid heightened tensions between Israel and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group, as the latter has threatened Israeli gas facilities amid US-brokered talks over a maritime dispute.

The dispute, involving opposing claims to offshore gas fields, intensified in June after Israel moved a production vessel near the offshore Karish field, claimed in part by Lebanon.

An Iron Dome sea-based air defense system is seen on a Navy ship, guarding the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel in the Karish gas field, in images released by the Army on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallahwhose terror group launched four drones into the Karish field in July, issued a new threat on Saturday, warning Israel not to start mining.

“We are following the negotiations and all our eyes are on Karish and our missiles are locked on Karish,” Nasrallah said. “As long as the extraction does not start, there is a possibility of solutions.”

Energean, a London-listed company that holds the license to mine Karish, said on September 8 that it was “on track to deliver [el] first gas from the Karish development project in a few weeks.”

On Friday, the Energy Ministry said it was “preparing to connect the Karish field to the Israeli system…. As part of the next stage of the project, scheduled for the next few days, the platform and the natural transmission system from the platform to the national network will be tested.”

Both countries claim some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon claims the Karish gas field is in the disputed territory, while Israel says it is within its internationally recognized economic waters.

Hezbollah adamantly opposes any concessions to Israel.

The Iranian-backed terror group and Israel last clashed in 2006. Beirut and Jerusalem do not have diplomatic relations and the two countries are separated by the UN-patrolled ceasefire line.

In June, the Israel Defense Forces held a major military exercise in Cyprus, simulating a ground offensive deep inside Lebanon in a possible war against the Iranian-backed group.

Hezbollah has long been the IDF’s most significant adversary on Israel’s borders, with an estimated arsenal of nearly 150,000 rockets and missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel.

The Times of Israel

IDF chief to visit France and Poland to discuss Iranian threat