In his first speech as prime minister at an official ceremony, Yair Lapid said on Thursday that Israel is “stronger, more sophisticated, and tougher” than its enemies, but that it must work to “restore trust” in state institutions.
“Israel is stronger than all its enemies, and we will not hesitate to use force to maintain peace for our citizens,” Lapid told new IDF officers during their graduation ceremony at a training base in the south. “Our enemies need to know that at any given moment we are stronger, more sophisticated, and tougher than them.”
“And our enemies need to know one more thing: that we will stand up to them, together,” he added. “That Israeli society is stronger than any argument. That Israeli power is the power of togetherness.”
Lapid continued: “Our mission as a society is to restore trust. The trust in our democracy, the trust in the IDF, in the police, in the court, and most importantly in restoring our trust in each other.”
The prime minister said that in order for Israel’s “enemies to know that we are not worth messing with… the best young people in Israel, the most determined in Israel,” must train as officers in the IDF. “I look at you — this condition is met.”
Speaking after Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz was more specific in describing the enemies facing Israel, pointing specifically to Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, the Hezbollah terror group.
Gantz sent a direct warning to Lebanon, following recent attempts by Hezbollah to launch drones at an offshore gas field.
“In the past week, there have been attempts by Hezbollah to launch UAVs near the Karish gas rig, which have been foiled,” Gantz said.
“The State of Israel knows how to protect its assets well, and Hezbollah needs to understand that the mission it is carrying out on behalf of Iran could become a deadly mission that will first and foremost harm the interests of the Lebanese citizens,” he added.
“It is the state of Lebanon that is responsible for stopping Iranian aggression from its territory carried out by Hezbollah,” he said.
“In the era of I and I, your mission is to lead the ‘us,'” Gantz told the new officers. “You will be expected to carry the flag of statehood, which is first and foremost the concern for the State of Israel. You need to place the important mission you’re all here for today — Israel’s security and its resilience — before your personal interests.”
On Saturday, the IDF said it successfully intercepted three drones operated by Hezbollah that were heading for the Karish gas field off Israel’s Mediterranean coast.
One of the Hezbollah aircraft was downed by an F16 fighter jet, and the other two by Barak 8 missiles launched from the Saar 5 Class Corvette INS Eilat, the military said in a statement.
The incident led Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati to publicly criticize the terror group for sending three unmanned aircraft toward an Israeli gas installation, saying it was an unnecessarily risky action.
Tensions have risen over the site in recent weeks, after a gas production vessel arrived in Israel to launch extraction operations in the offshore field, drawing condemnation from Lebanon, which had laid claim to parts of it. Israel says Karish is in part of its UN-recognized exclusive economic zone.