Day after reported airstrike, Ya’alon warns Iran not to arm Hezbollah

Defense minister says Tehran is trying to equip Lebanese terror group with advanced weapons

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon seen during an army exercise of the IDF Kfir Brigade on the Golan Heights in northern Israel, April 2, 2015. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon seen during an army exercise of the IDF Kfir Brigade on the Golan Heights in northern Israel, April 2, 2015. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned on Sunday that Israel won’t let Iran equip the Lebanon-based Hezbollah with advanced weapons — the day after an alleged Israeli airstrike hit weapons depots in Syria.

The comments also came hours before an Israeli aircraft struck and killed a squad of men placing an explosive device on the Israel-Syria border Sunday night, according to the army.

Although Ya’alon did not discuss the Saturday airstrike that reportedly hit surface-to-surface missile depots, he declared that Israel will not allow Iran to supply arms to the terror group, which has a strong military presence in Lebanon as well as in Syria, the two countries lying on Israel’s northern borders.

“Iran continues to try and arm Hezbollah and it is striving to arm the Lebanese terror group with advanced weapons in every way it can, and by using every avenue,” Ya’alon said in a speech at Israel’s military headquarters in Tel Aviv. “We will not allow the transfer of
sophisticated weapons to terror groups, and in particular Hezbollah.”

“We know how to reach [Hezbollah] and those who direct it, at any time and any place,” Ya’alon continued. “We will not allow Hezbollah to establish a terror infrastructure on our borders with Syria, and we know how to lay our hands on anyone who threatens Israeli citizens, along our borders or even far from them.”

The minister’s comments came after Israel reportedly hit several targets belonging to Hezbollah and the Syrian army Saturday in a series of air attacks in the Qalamoun area on the border between Syria and Lebanon.

According to a report in al-Jazeera, the Syrian targets were divisions 155 and 65 of the Assad army, in charge of “strategic weapons,” while the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya reported that the targets were Scud missile depots housed in the military bases.

According to al-Arabiya, a first Israeli Air Force strike took place last Wednesday, allegedly targeting two sites believed to have been Syrian army missile depots.

The area is known as a Syrian military site housing weapons depots and installations.

There was no official word from Hezbollah or the Syrian government on the alleged attacks.

Israel is said to have targeted the same area in the past when it believed a shipment of advanced weaponry was being delivered from Iran to its Shiite proxy in Lebanon.

In January, an airstrike attributed to Israel on a convoy in the Syrian Golan Heights killed a top Hezbollah commander, along with an Iranian general and several others.

Hezbollah retaliated with a cross-border attack that killed IDF soldiers Major Yochai Kalangel and Staff Sergeant Dor Chaim Nini.

Israel’s air force chief Amir Eshel warned last week that Hezbollah was “dragging” Lebanon toward “a very harsh war” and has deployed its military machine in the civilian “towns and villages of Lebanon.”

If Hezbollah, with which Israel fought a bitter war in 2006, sparks another conflict, Eshel said, “Lebanon will go through an experience whose dimensions it cannot imagine. I wouldn’t trade places with a single Lebanese.”

Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.

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