Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said on Monday that Israel faces a growing number of enemies, as well as expanding fronts.

Speaking at an awards ceremony in central Israel, Kochavi said the IDF was currently operating on multiple fronts, on a daily basis.

“The IDF is one of the most active militaries in the world, if not the most active,” he said. “The IDF is fighting and operating daily and nightly on numerous fronts, which have grown in number recently—the number of enemies is greater than the number of fronts.”

In Syria, he said, “The [Iranian] Quds Force and Hezbollah are operating, and in Lebanon, Iran’s terrorist tentacles are solidifying their grip.”

In order to meet these challenges, he said, the IDF needs to adapt and innovate.

“Any organization, and especially the IDF, cannot be satisfied with maintaining and preserving the status quo. The IDF must change and innovate to beat its enemies to the punch and develop a significant advantage,” he said.

The army chief also addressed the recent uproar in Israel over the publication of an IDF report that allegedly distorted statistics on haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment.

According to Kochavi, “Stating the truth, and honest reporting, are a core principle of the IDF—this is a binding decree linking the platoon commander to the high command, which conveys the security reality to the political echelon. Therefore, the investigation, too, is a building block at the army’s foundation. Every inquiry requires the reporting of all the facts, analyzing them from every angle, and conveying the conclusions honestly. We will always do this accurately and clearly while presenting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—and moreover, while contending with the real consequences.”

In early December, the army came under fire after a media report said it had inflated ultra-Orthodox enlistment figures.

A report by Israeli public broadcaster Kan said that the military “doubled or even tripled” the number of ultra-Orthodox men drafted over the past several years. During that time, the IDF has said ultra-Orthodox draft figures have surged.

The issue of mandatory military service for the ‎‎ultra-Orthodox sector has dogged Israeli politics ‎‎for years. Many in the haredi community ‎‎believe that they should receive a blanket exemption from ‎‎military conscription, which they see as secondary ‎to ‎Torah study, but secular Israelis oppose being ‎‎expected to shoulder the burden of military service alone.

Kochavi has tasked former IDF Central Command chief Maj. Gen. (res.) Roni Numa with investigating the issue. Numa will also determine the correct haredi enlistment numbers for the years 2011 to 2018.

Kochavi added on Monday that “presenting matters inaccurately is a violation of the contract of trust between the IDF and Israeli society, which entrusts the army with its sons and daughters. If we find a mistake was made, we will learn from it and improve, and if we find there was malicious or premeditated intent, we will punish it with a heavy hand. In this area, there will never be any room for compromise, and there will never be any room for cutting corners or turning a blind eye.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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