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'Iran seeks to destroy all trace of freedom, dignity, peace'

Gantz: Iran building up forces in its western areas to attack Israel, other states

In Washington, defense minister details Tehran’s increasing use of attack drones in the region, including an attempt to provide such weaponry to Palestinian terror groups

Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Washington, December 9, 2021. (Shmulik Almany/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Washington, December 9, 2021. (Shmulik Almany/Defense Ministry)

In Washington, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Friday that Iran is building up its forces in the country’s west “in order to attack countries and forces in the Middle East in general and Israel in particular. We are preparing for any such attempt, and will do everything necessary to protect our citizens and our assets.”

He said Israel was “preparing for any such attempt, and will do everything necessary to protect our citizens and our assets.”

Gantz met on Thursday with his counterpart Lloyd Austin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In a statement, the minister’s office said he’d detailed to American officials Iran’s use of attack drones to strike its enemies through its proxies as well as from Iranian territory.

He said that in 2018 Iran apparently tried to provide such a drone armed with TNT to Palestinian terror groups in the West Bank.

After Gantz’s meeting with Austin, he said Iran “is not just a threat to our physical security” but “a concrete threat to our way of life and our shared values.”

He added: “In its aspirations to become a hegemon, Iran seeks to destroy all traces of freedom, human dignity and peace in the Middle East and beyond. The nuclear program is a means to its hegemonic goals.”

Gantz stated that in talks with world powers, “Iran is playing poker with a bad hand and it’s playing with time.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (L) and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meet at the Pentagon on December 9, 2021. (Defense Ministry)

With Blinken, Gantz discussed further developing ties between Israel and the other signatories to the Abraham Accords normalization agreements signed last year, and the possibility of normalizing relations with new regional partners, Gantz’s office said.

A US spokesperson said the pair discussed Iran, Israeli security, and that Blinken had “reiterated the Administration’s belief that Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, right, in Washington, December 9, 2021. (Shmulik Almany/GPO)

Gantz flew to Washington on Wednesday for meetings with top US military leaders, as troubled nuclear talks resumed in Vienna.

Talks in Vienna on Thursday ended an hour after resuming following a few days’ pause, with tensions high after Tehran made demands last week that European countries strongly criticized.

Last week’s talks were the first in over five months, a gap caused by a new hard-line government assuming power in Tehran. European diplomats last week urged Tehran to come back with “realistic proposals” after the Iranian delegation made numerous demands that other parties to the accord deemed unacceptable.

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