Crippling sanctions are the only way to stop Iran from killing protesters and developing nuclear weapons, Israeli Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel said Wednesday at The Jerusalem Post’s Women Leaders Summit in Tel Aviv.
Gamliel, who is one of Israel’s longest-tenured female lawmakers and is the first woman to hold the intelligence portfolio, described the importance of women expanding their influence and mentioned her goal of transforming the Intelligence Ministry into a powerful arm of Israel’s defense and security.
As part of this, she mentioned the severe threat of Iran.
Gamliel: Biggest strategic threat to Israel is Iran's nuclear program
"Iran's nuclear program is undoubtedly the biggest strategic threat to Israel and the region," Gamliel said, calling on the US and Israel's European allies to impose more sanctions.
But it isn’t just the Islamic Republic’s race toward the bomb that the sanctions can stop, she said – it could also stop Iran’s brutal crackdown on protesters.
“Twenty years ago, when I started as the chair of the Student Union, we had lots of protests in Israel,” the minister recounted. “But the current wave of protests in Iran lasted almost six months – longer than anything else we’ve ever seen there.”
She also described that this protest had a very clear trigger: “the horrifying death of the 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini, who was beaten to death just because she wore her hijab in a way that didn’t satisfy the regime’s moral police. But what began as the hijab protest quickly turned into a broad popular protest that swept the entire country,” Gamliel said.
“Throughout it all, the brave Iranian women have stood out– and even school-age girls are out there ready to risk their lives for freedom.”
Gamliel also noted that this protest didn't just have the Iranian opposition and minority groups going out into the streets, but also members of the middle class, many of them chanting "death to the dictator."
“This is what a real and widespread popular protest looks like,” she said. “This is why it’s not going away in the foreseeable future. Even if [the regime] keeps suppressing the protest, they won’t be able to suppress the values and souls of the people and of the women who demand their freedom.”
But the Iranian regime has cracked down hard on the protests, killing at least 500 protesters and arresting around 20,000 others.
“We know what happens in the dark basements of Iranian prisons,” Gamliel said. “It isn’t just beatings, but also severe torture and acts of rape against women, men and even minors. There are citizens who simply disappear and no one knows what happens to them.”
The only way to stop this, she said, is through crippling sanctions.
“Condemnations won’t stop the violence against innocents, just like it won’t stop the nuclear program,” the minister explained. “The world can’t stand by when the most basic of human rights are trampled like this.”