Liber­man: Is­rael will do ev­ery­thing nec­es­sary to pre­vent Iran from en­trench­ing it­self in Syria

‘Ev­ery­thing we need to do has been done’

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By ANNA AHRONHEIM

Is­rael will do ev­ery­thing nec­es­sary to pre­vent Iran from con­sol­i­dat­ing it­self in Syria, De­fense Min­is­ter Avig­dor Liber­man said on Wed­nes­day.

“Iran de­clared war on us. The high­est ech­e­lons in Tehran want to erase the Zion­ist en­tity; they do not hide the fact that they want to wipe the State of Is­rael off the face of the earth,” he said at the an­nual con­fer­ence or­ga­nized by the Fed­er­a­tion of Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties and Keren Kayemeth LeIs­rael, held at the Tel Aviv Fair­grounds.

“Iran is also fight­ing us through its prox­ies – Hezbol­lah, Is­lamic Ji­had and now Ha­mas, and of course the Syr­ian regime. There­fore, it is a daily war not only in the mil­i­tary as­pect but also in the realm of in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism, and we do ev­ery­thing in or­der to pre­serve Is­rael’s se­cu­rity,” Liber­man said, adding that Is­rael main­tains ab­so­lute free­dom of ac­tion. “Ev­ery­thing we need to do has been done.”

On Satur­day, an Ira­nian drone that took off from Syria’s T4 air­base in the north­ern Homs prov­ince flew through Jor­da­nian ter­ri­tory be­fore it in­fil­trated into Is­rael. It flew for about a minute and a half in the north­ern Jor­dan Val­ley, be­fore it was shot down by an Is­rael Air Force Apache he­li­copter. In re­tal­i­a­tion for the in­cur­sion, eight Is­raeli jets took off to strike the drone’s launch site. Dur­ing the op­er­a­tion, about 20 Syr­ian an­ti­air­craft mis­siles were fired at Is­raeli jets, bring­ing one of them down.

“The Ira­nian ac­tiv­ity should, of course, bother us,” Liber­man said. “It is not only the­o­ret­i­cal threats. They are in­vest­ing bil­lions of dol­lars in weapons of mass de­struc­tion and are try­ing to es­tab­lish them­selves in Syria.”

Of­fi­cials have re­peat­edly voiced con­cerns over the smug­gling of so­phis­ti­cated weaponry to Hezbol­lah and the grow­ing Ira­nian pres­ence on Is­rael’s bor­der with Syria, stress­ing that both are red­lines for the Jewish state.

Ac­cord­ing to Liber­man, Is­rael not only is de­ter­mined to pre­vent Iran’s en­trench­ment in war-torn Syria but is also work­ing to pre­vent Tehran from es­tab­lish­ing weapons fac­to­ries in Le­banon for Hezbol­lah.

“It oc­cu­pies us and we have good an­swers and, given the time, we will give all the rel­e­vant an­swers,” he said.

While Is­rael is not cur­rently plan­ning any mil­i­tary ac­tion on the north­ern front, “there are things that are dis­turb­ing, and there are things that are an ex­is­ten­tial threat to our very ex­is­tence here in the Mid­dle East,” Liber­man said, adding that “if we reach a sit­u­a­tion where we have no choice, we will act.”

Ac­cord­ing to Liber­man, while Is­rael wants to live qui­etly, the tur­bu­lent re­al­ity of the Mid­dle East makes the word “‘peace’ ir­rel­e­vant”; the only way to live here qui­etly is to pre­pare for war.

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