Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday said Israel will not allow Iran to establish a land corridor to Lebanon and Syria by way of Iraq, which the Islamic Republic is seeking to use to shore up its supply lines to its Syrian and Lebanese proxies.
“Iran is trying to create a contiguous land corridor from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. We will not allow this to happen,” Bennett, who heads the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party, told Army Radio.
Senior Israeli officials have previously warned of Iranian efforts to set up a land passage from Tehran to Beirut, which Intelligence Ministry Director-General Hagai Tzuriel told The Times of Israel in a March interview would help Iran cement its presence in Syria, something Israel views as a strategic threat.
Bennett’s comments came as the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Sunday that Israeli officials are increasingly preoccupied with Iranian efforts to establish missile factories in Lebanon for the Hezbollah terror group, which was first reported by the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida in March.
Such facilities would allow Iran to arm Hezbollah without having to transport weapons through Syria, where Israel is believed to have carried out a number of airstrikes on weapons convoys destined for the Shiite terror group in recent years.
According to the Yedioth report, Israel is weighing whether to launch a preemptive strike on the missile factories, which it views as a threat to its deterrence vis-a-vis Hezbollah.
According to Hebrew-language reports last month, Israel has been speaking to friendly nations who also have diplomatic relations with Tehran, asking them to convey to the Islamic Republic that Jerusalem “will not tolerate” the continued arming of the southern Lebanese terror group and Iranian proxy, in particular the construction of the underground weapons-production factories. Those reports cited a European diplomatic source.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.