(JNS) — “Negative developments” with Tehran’s nuclear program could prompt the Jewish state to act, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said on Tuesday.

“Iran has advanced in the last few years by enriching uranium more than ever and we are examining very closely the other fields as well on the way to nuclear capabilities,” Halevi said at a conference hosted by the Institute for Policy and Strategy of Reichman University in Herzliya.

“We see negative potential developments on the horizon that might bring action,” the general said.

National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi also spoke at the conference about the Iranian threat on Tuesday, addressing a report that an Iranian nuclear facility under construction at Natanz is so deep underground that U.S. airstrikes likely couldn’t reach it.

“Of course, it limits the ability to attack, but there is no place that can’t be reached,” Hanegbi said.

On the Lebanon front, Halevi noted that Hezbollah is a constant challenge for Israel. He emphasized the importance of maintaining the IDF’s qualitative edge over the Iran-backed terrorist group. 

“Hezbollah is very much deterred from an overall war with Israel. It understands how we think. This brings Hezbollah to dare to challenge us where it is sure that it will not lead to an overall war. I see that as a ‘good’ path to create surprises in times of need,” Halevi said.

The IDF chief said that Israel is well prepared on the northern borders while cautioning that a conflict in the north “would be difficult.” The citizens of Lebanon would find an Israel-Hezbollah clash “extremely difficult to come back from,” he warned.

Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, speaking at the conference on Monday, had a different take on the prospects of war with Hezbollah.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is “close to making a mistake that could lead this entire region into a war,” the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate head said.

photo of IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi

Courtesy of JNS. Photo credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi addresses the Herzliya Conference, May 23, 2023