In a signal to Tehran and its proxies in the region, Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday said Israel is constantly acting to prevent Iranian entrenchment near Israel.
In a warning to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shi’ite terrorist group that is also active in Syria, he said Israel would do everything in its ability to prevent Lebanon from becoming a terrorist state.
“Three and a half years after the disaster we left Lebanon, while [the victims'] blood is soaked in the soil,” Gantz said at a memorial ceremony for the 1997 helicopter disaster, when two IAF helicopters taking soldiers to the security zone in southern Lebanon collided in midair, killing all 73 on board.
“Since then, we made it clear that we will not allow Lebanon to become a terrorist state,” he said. “And today, the IDF is operating and will keep operating on the border and beyond.”
“We will not hesitate to uproot the Iranian entrenchment near our borders, and [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah knows well that his decision to build bunkers of ammunition and rockets and to strengthen Hezbollah’s capabilities is putting him in danger and putting the lives of Lebanese citizens in danger,” he added.
Gantz called on the Lebanese government to assume responsibility for what takes place in the country.
“If a confrontation occurs on the northern front, the State of Lebanon will be the one that pays the heaviest price because [the ammunition and rockets] are in civilian areas,” he said.
Over the past year, several incidents between and the IDF and Hezbollah have been reported along the Lebanese border.
Last week, an antiaircraft missile was fired at an IDF drone while it was carrying out a mission over Lebanon. It missed the drone, and the mission was completed, the IDF said.