Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday said Iran was the “driving force” of a recent multi-front escalation, while detailing the funding the Islamic Republic provides to its proxies across the region.
Gallant told reporters in a briefing that Iran funds the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon with $700 million a year, as well as “knowledge and strategic weaponry” such as precision-guided munitions.
The Hamas terror group that rules the Gaza Strip is funded by Iran with $100 million annually, with additional funding worth tens of millions of dollars going to the second largest terror group in the Palestinian enclave, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Gallant said.
In Syria, hundreds of millions of dollars are sent to Iranian-backed militias each year, and the Syrian regime led by dictator Bashar Assad receives billions of dollars from Iran, he added.
Gallant said that Iran-backed militias in Iraq receive funding worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year, as well as weaponry; and in Yemen, the Houthi rebel group is funded by Iran with hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
“The increasing dependence [of the proxies] on Iran leads them to step over the boundaries and become more brazen,” Gallant added.
Earlier this month, the country saw a security escalation on multiple fronts over the course of a few days, with rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and Israeli retaliatory strikes; a barrage of rockets from Lebanon; a rocket attack from Syria; a suspected Iranian drone launched from Syria and Israeli strikes in response; clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount; and deadly terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank.
The defense establishment on Thursday denied there was a link between a US-backed maritime border demarcation deal with Lebanon and the recent escalation, as had been suggested by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Meanwhile, the defense establishment also officially blamed Hezbollah for a blast on a highway in northern Israel last month, which was carried out by a man who infiltrated from Lebanon.
Gallant also warned on Thursday that Israel would likely no longer see limited conflicts on single fronts, but rather would have to face a multi-front escalation in the near future.