The head of intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says that 170,000 missiles and rockets are currently pointed at Israel from enemies in the north, south, east and west.
At a security conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Major-General Aviv Kochavi, commander of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, also said that Al Qaeda operates three bases in Turkey.
“We call this period in time the ‘Era of Fire’ in light of the amount of missiles and rockets we face as a constant threat. There are about 170,000 rockets and missiles that threaten Israel,” Kochavi said according to quotes published in the Jerusalem Post.
“For the first time the enemy now has the ability to hit Israeli cities hard,” he said. “The state of Israel is surrounded 360 degrees with active enemies. The conventional threats have not disappeared.”
And the accuracy of the missiles has improved. “They are much more precise and a lot more lethal,” Kochavi said at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).
The intel chief said that foreign Al Qaeda fighters headed for Syria have bases in next-door Turkey, which could pose a threat to the west as Turkey is a NATO member state from which access to Europe is easy.
The Israeli general presented a map of the Middle East which showed three Al Qaeda bases inside Turkey.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman had no immediate comment to a request from Reuters for reaction to Kochavi’s claim, but Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has has repeatedly denied providing shelter to Al Qaeda-linked rebels fighting in Syria.
Reuters reported that the bases on the map appeared to be in the Karaman, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa provinces.
“Syria is projecting its conflict to the whole region. Those blotches (on the map) in Turkey are no mistake by the graphic artist and it is a short way from there into Europe,” Kochavi said.
On a more positive note, Kochavi said that the weakening of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Hezbollah’s declining popularity due to supporting Assad and what he called “the erosion” in support for the Muslim Brotherhood are welcome developments.
Kochavi also described the intense cyber threat on Israel, which he said has faced hundreds of attacks in the past year, specifically defense-related targets.
“Fortunately, most attacks were foiled, but the ability to carry out such attacks is almost unlimited,” he said.