Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Lebanon on Tuesday (July 19) that “aggression” by the country’s Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, will not be tolerated.
Speaking during a tour of the IDF Northern Command and Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, Lapid said Israel is interested in the country being a “stable and prosperous neighbor that is neither a platform for Hezbollah terrorism nor an Iranian tool.
“The activity of Hezbollah endangers Lebanon, its citizens and their wellbeing,” he said.
The Israel Defense Forces downed another Hezbollah drone late Monday afternoon after it crossed into Israeli airspace from Lebanon.
Earlier this month, an IAF combat pilot and fighters on an Israeli Navy vessel shot down three drones sent by Hezbollah to Israel’s offshore Karish natural gas field. In that incident, an F-16 combat aircraft shot down one of the drones; an Israeli navy missile ship intercepted the other two UAVs.
Lapid and Gantz held an operational assessment and spoke with senior commanders during the visit, which came less than a day after the latest attempt by Hezbollah to infiltrate the Jewish State..
“The State of Israel is prepared to act against any threat,” Lapid said. “We do not seek confrontation but whoever tries to attack our sovereignty or Israeli citizens – will learn very quickly that they have made a serious mistake.”
Also taking part in the tour were National Security Council Director Dr. Eyal Hulata, IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevy, Commander of the IDF Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Amir Baram, the Prime Minister’s Military Secretary Maj.-Gen. Avi Gil, the Defense Minister’s Military Secretary Brig.-Gen. Yaakov Dolf and other senior officers.
“While we have no interest in escalation, Hezbollah’s aggression is unacceptable and is liable to lead the entire region into an unnecessary escalation, just when there is a genuine opportunity for Lebanon to develop its energy resources,” Lapid said.
“The State of Israel is taking action against all of Iran’s proxies in the region and beyond and will continue to do so. Iran is the largest exporter of terrorism in the world. We will act on our own and in tandem with other countries in the region to prevent Iran from undermining regional stability,” he added.
“Israel is ready to do much for its neighbors’ prosperity [but] is prepared to take action at any time to protect its citizens,” Gantz added. “We are prepared in all areas – land, sea, air and cyber.
“We see the crisis in Lebanon, which is hurting its citizens. Lebanon and its leaders know very well that if they choose the path of confrontation – they will be hurt and get burned severely. If they choose the path of stability – they will be helping the Lebanese people.”