Defense Ministry Censors Gantz Over Iran Remark

February 9, 2012  

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz was censored by the Defense Ministry because of a remark he made hinting at an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, Channel 2 News reported on Thursday.

The incident occurred during Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s 70th birthday celebration in his office in Tel Aviv. The party was attended by Gantz as well as by Barak’s wife, Nili Priel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other senior officials in the defense establishment.

The Defense Ministry later circulated a video clip to the media in which the attendees can be seen greeting Barak. However, Channel 2 noted, part of Gantz’s greeting was edited out.

“Many blessings, much joy, especially health, I think it’s important. I brought you a little gift, a chessboard,” Gantz is seen saying in the edited greeting.

Channel 2 reported that the entire contents of Gantz’s greeting were later revealed on IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai’s Facebook page, on which he wrote, “Today we surprised the defense minister with a toast on the occasion of his 70th birthday. The Chief of Staff gave the minister a handmade chessboard and told him, ‘The game of chess originated in Persia and I’m sure we will win wisely.’”

The report said that Gantz’s remarks were likely to have been cut out because they hint that Israel is planning an attack in Iran (Persia).

The media has been rampant with speculations in recent months that Israel is planning to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Last week, a report on NBC revealed what an Israeli attack on Iran may look like. The report, which was based on conversations the American network held with current and former officials in Israel and the United States, suggested that an attack on Iran will combine air and ground faces but will not include naval forces.

U.S. President Barack Obama, however, said this week he does not think Israel has decided whether to attack Iran over its disputed nuclear program. He added that Israel is rightfully worried about its security if Iran achieves nuclear capability.

Last week, Barak delivered a forceful message regarding the urgency of stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program, hinting that a military strike on Iran could be imminent.

“He who says ‘later,’ may find that it is ‘too late,'” Barak said, incorporating the English words into his speech at the Herzliya Conference.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Netanyahu told his top officials to stop “blabbing” about a potential military strike targeting Iran’s nuclear program.

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