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Gantz warns Hezbollah not to ‘test’ the power of the IDF

Defense minister makes remark to Lebanese terror group during the launch of a psychological help center in northern Israel

Defense Minister Gantz at the launch of a "resilience center" in Kibbutz Kabri on March 15, 2021. (Screenshot/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Gantz at the launch of a "resilience center" in Kibbutz Kabri on March 15, 2021. (Screenshot/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday warned Lebanese terror group Hezbollah that it should not test the military capabilities of Israel and the IDF, during the launch of a so-called “resilience center” in northern Israel.

“We’re prepared for every scenario on the northern front. I’d recommend that the Lebanese side not test the IDF’s abilities,” Gantz said in Kibbutz Kabri.

The center will offer psychological help to residents, especially children, who suffer from stress, notably during wartime. In 2006, Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets at Israeli towns during the Second Lebanon War.

“The northern front is currently relatively calm, but we can’t help but recall the decades of volatility in this region, and the many rounds of flare-ups and military operations,” Gantz said.

A UN force drive past Hezbollah flag and a concrete barrier in southern Lebanon on the border with Israel, Aug. 26, 2020 (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

According to the IDF, Hezbollah has attempted at least two sniper attacks on Israeli troops as retaliation for the July 2020 killing of one of its operatives, one on July 27 and the other on August 26. Both failed.

The Israeli military believes Hezbollah still intends to exact revenge.

“There is no doubt that war or conflict would hurt both sides, but the Lebanese side would feel it unequivocally and powerfully, and testing the power of the State of Israel or of the IDF isn’t recommended,” the defense minister said.

Gantz added that “there are thousands of homes in Lebanon with weapons storerooms alongside guestrooms. We have the moral obligation to protect Israeli citizens and we will attack these weapons storerooms.”

The location of an alleged Hezbollah arms depot next to a church and a medical center in the Laylaki neighborhood of Beirut, as claimed by the Israel Defense Forces on September 29, 2020 (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli Air Force completed a three-day surprise exercise simulating a large-scale war with Hezbollah in February, including mock strikes on some 3,000 targets in one day, the military said, in a clear message to the Lebanese terror group.

“We are committed to protecting our citizens above all else and to doing everything we can so that civilians on the other side won’t be hurt,” Gantz concluded.

An F-35 fighter jet takes off during a surprise exercise, ‘Galilee Rose,’ in February 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

Lebanon regularly complains about Israeli surveillance drones invading its airspace, but the IDF maintains that such incursions are necessary to track the illegal activities of Hezbollah, which the Lebanese government is supposed to keep in check.

Last month, Gantz said that Hezbollah will be “fatally wounded” if Israel needs to go to war in Lebanon, after the terror group’s head, Hassan Nasrallah, threatened Israel following the IDF exercise simulating war with the terror group.

Israel is technically at war with Lebanon, where it has fought two campaigns — one in 1982 against Palestinian terrorists who had established a base of operations in the country, and one in 2006 against Hezbollah.

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