In the days leading up to the airstrikes blamed on Israel in Syria, Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday vowed that Iran would refrain from handing over “advanced capabilities” to other entities in the region.
“The state of Israel will continue to fight any enemy who threatens it and prevents the transfer of advanced power from Iran that would endanger the lives of Israeli citizens and undermine the stability of the entire region,” he said. Mr. Gantz during a visit to the Army’s Northern Command.
Israel has long accused Iran of handing over advanced weapons to the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group. Through Syria. The latter is also said to have improved its air defense capabilities, thanks in part to Iran’s advanced components, according to military officials.
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Gantz says Israel will continue to strengthen defenses in the north. In recent months, the Defense Ministry has begun building hundreds of bomb shelters in northern cities for Israeli citizens who do not have access to functional shelters.
On Monday, the Israeli army continued its monthly “Chariots of Fire” exercise, including a military exercise in the northern city of Haifa.
Mr Gantz said the aim of the exercises was to “prepare different theaters to deal with different situations against our enemies, as well as against Hezbollah and Hamas, which also operate from Lebanon.”
This is the first time an Israeli official has confirmed that the Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas has set up a base for operations in Lebanon. Israel has repeatedly blamed “Palestinian groups” for rocket attacks launched from its northern neighbor, which the powerful Hezbollah terrorist group has not claimed.
“The combination of training, operational activities and building civilian resilience constitutes our perfect example for the security of the north and the state of Israel as a whole,” he added.
Friday’s airstrikes in the Masyaf region of northwestern Syria “completely destroyed” a structure leading to an underground facility, a satellite image shows. According to press reports, six Syrian soldiers were killed in the operation, all members of the air defense crew.
The Masiaf area has been used as a base by Iranian forces and pro-Iranian militias and has been repeatedly targeted in recent years by attacks blamed on Israel.
Over the past decade, Israel has flown hundreds of aircraft over Syria, mostly to thwart attempts by Iranian forces to hand over arms or keep a foothold.
Despite the deterioration of relations with Moscow in recent weeks, Israeli airstrikes continue in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia. Israel has been increasingly supporting Ukraine, along with Russia, in maintaining its freedom of movement in Syria.