Iran has launched maritime attacks with unmanned aerial vehicles from bases in Chabahar and Qeshm Island in the country’s south, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Tuesday.
Gantz said that the threat posed by the Islamic Republic is not only facing Israel but the entire world.
“One of the key tools is UAVs and precision weapons, which can reach strategic targets within thousands of kilometers, and thus this capability is already endangering Sunni countries, international troops in the Middle East, and also countries in Europe and Africa,” the defense minister said at the Institute for Policy and Strategy Herzliya Conference.
Iranian drones can reach a range of 1,700 kilometers, and their attacks have targeted assets belonging to the United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel as well as Sunni organizations in Syria and Iraq.
“Iran aspires to become a regional hegemon and then a global one, exporting its radical ideology in which human rights are destroyed, members of the LGBTQ+ community are hung, women are oppressed, and resources are redirected to the regime,” said Gantz. “Their methodology is to take over unstable countries like Yemen, which ranks last in the ‘fragile countries’ index, similarly to Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Their plan is clear: ‘first we take Damascus, then we take Berlin.’”
While Iran has been carrying out hostile activities across the Middle East, it is also operating in other areas such as transferring oil and weapons to Venezuela, operating the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force in South America, and trying to grow its presence in Afghanistan.
“Iranian terrorism is being promoted with the approval of its spiritual leader Ali Khamenei and under the regime’s top directive,” Gantz said, adding that Tehran is also attempting to smuggle weapons to Venezuela and increase the presence of the IRGC in South America.
Iran has been sending IRGC forces to South America for several years and is expected to sign a cooperation accord with Caracas as ties between the two countries intensify.
The defense minister stressed that in the face of the Iranian threat, the international community must act “and add a Plan B” should the diplomatic option fail.
Saying that while Israel will continue to work in “full cooperation” with the American and international community, there must be a real option of military action.
“There is no doubt that a diplomatic solution is preferable, but alongside it, the use of force must also be on the table, since it is the continuation of diplomacy by other means. Sometimes the use and demonstration of force can prevent the need for an even stronger use of force.”
Tehran also attempted to send explosives to Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank from Syria using unmanned aerial vehicles, Gantz said.
The attempted smuggling by the Shahed m141 UAV carrying TNT explosives occurred in February 2018. Although the IDF had originally said the drone was on the way to carry out a sabotage attack, “its destination was, to our understanding, terrorists in the West Bank. Iran is not only using unmanned aerial vehicles to attack but also to transfer weapons to its proxies.”
The advanced Iranian drone, believed to be a copy of a US stealth drone that was downed in Iran in 2011, took off from the T-4 airbase deep in the Syrian province of Homs and crossed into Israeli territory via Jordanian airspace.
The drone was spotted and intercepted in Israel near Beit She’an by an Apache attack helicopter.
In September, Gantz said that the Islamic Republic is training militias from Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria to operate and manufacture Iranian UAVs at Kashan Base north of Isfahan.
“Iran has created ‘emissary terrorism’ under the auspices of organized terror armies that help it achieve its economic, political, and military goals,” he said at the time. “Iran is trying to transfer its knowledge that will enable Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – [and also those] in the Gaza Strip – to produce advanced UAVs.”
According to Gantz, terror operatives from those countries are being trained to fly Iranian UAVs at the base, “which is the cornerstone of Iranian aerial terrorism in the region.”