Tensions between Israel and Iran spiked this week when news broke about a possible Israeli intervention in Syria after Russia declared the war in the country over. Iranian leaders responded by threatening the “cancerous tumor” of Israel with annihilation.
During a telephone conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and French President Emmanuel Macron, the Israeli leader revealed a new Israeli strategy in Syria and made it clear the Israel Defense Forces would act alone if necessary against an Iranian takeover of the war-torn country.
Until recently, Israel’s approach to the war in Syria was to sit on the fence and not interfere, with one exception being when Iran would deliver weapons to Hezbollah.
A transcript of the conversation between the two leaders obtained by Israeli TV Channel 10 revealed Macron tried to calm down Netanyahu and dissuade him from taking “hasty” action.
When Macron wanted to discuss the political crisis in Lebanon after the unexpected resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who rescinded his resignation as soon as he returned to Lebanon after a near three-week stay abroad, Netanyahu reportedly said the following:
“I don’t care who the Lebanese prime minister is or what goes on in the internal politics there. What worries me is the strengthening of Hezbollah with Iran’s support.”
After pointing out to Macron that all Lebanese factions must work together to prevent additional Iranian weapon deliveries to Hezbollah in order to minimize the growing Iranian influence over Lebanon and Syria, Netanyahu issued a threat.
“Israel has tried up until now not to intervene in what is going on in Syria. But after the victory over Islamic State, the situation has changed because the pro-Iranian forces have taken control,” the Israeli PM told Macron, while adding that “from now on, Israel sees Iran’s activities in Syria as a target.”
“We will not hesitate to act, if our security needs require us to do so,” Netanyahu warned.
The Israeli leader has embarked on a diplomatic offensive to mobilize the Western countries and the Russians against what Iran is doing in Syria and Lebanon.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu spoke at length about Syria and Lebanon with Russian President Vladimir Putin and “insisted on Israeli security and reiterated his opposition to Iran’s entrenchment in Syria,” the PM’s office said in a statement to The Times of Israel.
The Israeli leader is also scheduled to make a rare appearance at a European Union summit for European Foreign Ministers at the end of November. At the summit, he plans to discuss measures against the Islamic Republic’s hegemonic drive in the Middle East.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is another high-ranking Israeli official who is alarmed about the international passivity in light of Iran’s aggression and imperialistic moves in the Middle East.
Liberman, who earlier this week demanded a sharp rise in the IDF’s budget in light of certain “regional developments,” said at the beginning of November Israel will not allow Iran to turn Syria in a “forward-operating base.”
“We simply will not allow Shiite and Iranian entrenchment in Syria. And we will not allow all of Syria to become a forward-operating base against the State of Israel. Whoever doesn’t understand that — should understand that,” Liberman warned.
Israel has recently stepped up its operations in Syria and is now focusing on thwarting Iranian attempts to set up a base near Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights.
At the beginning of November, the IDF warned they would defend the Druze community in Hader, a Syrian town just across the border in northeast Israel.
The announcement later proved to be connected to the continuing Iranian attempts to set up a military base in the internationally recognized demilitarized buffer zone between Syria and Israel.
For this reason, the IDF has already fired warning shots two times at soldiers of the Iranian-Russian-backed pro-Assad coalition, which conducted construction activities in the demilitarized zone on the Golan Heights.
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