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Gantz warns Hezbollah of ‘heavy consequences’ if it threatens Israel

Touring northern border amid tensions with Iran, defense minister says the Tehran-backed Lebanese terror group is working ‘to challenge us in new ways’

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (C) touring the Lebanese border area with senior IDF commanders, April 20, 2021. (Ariel Hermony/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz (C) touring the Lebanese border area with senior IDF commanders, April 20, 2021. (Ariel Hermony/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday warned Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group that it will suffer “heavy consequences” if it acts against Israel.

Touring the IDF’s Northern Command with senior military commanders, Gantz said the Israel Defense Forces “is ideally prepared along the northern border and definitely on the Lebanese front.”

“We are aware of Hezbollah’s attempts to challenge us in new ways,” he said, without elaborating on the new tactics. “We will deal with any threat. If Hezbollah challenges the IDF and the State of Israel, it will suffer very, very heavy consequences and I hope they don’t do that.”

Gantz issued a similar warning to Hezbollah last month.

While in the north, Gantz attended a drill simulating fighting in Lebanon and visited a cross-border tunnel dug by Hezbollah, which was sealed by the IDF as part of “Operation Northern Shield” in the winter of 2018-2019.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (L) visits a sealed cross-border tunnel in northern Israel that was dug by the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, April 20, 2021. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

He also highlighted the Lebanese terror group’s backing from Iran and reiterated Israel’s opposition to the Islamic Republic obtaining nuclear weapons capability.

“The State of Israel continues to act together with its partners in the world generally and the US in particular to prevent Iran from reaching a nuclear threshold,” Gantz said.

His comments came amid high-level talks on bringing the US back into the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, which the Biden administration is seeking to rejoin. Former president Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the treaty in 2018 and reimposed sanctions.

In response to the US pullout, Iran has gradually violated its commitments under the pact, most recently by increasing uranium enrichment to its highest ever levels of 60 percent, bringing it closer to weapons-grade purity.

Iran’s decision to ramp up enrichment came after an attack on a key nuclear facility that Tehran has blamed on Israel. The Jewish state has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the blast at Natanz earlier this month, but reports in the country said it was a sabotage operation by the Mossad spy agency, citing unnamed intelligence sources.

Iran has threatened to retaliate against Israel over the Natanz attack.

Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Netanyahu, have adamantly opposed the US returning to the nuclear deal, putting Jerusalem at odds with the new White House administration.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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