Defense minister warns Hezbollah: Israel will respond forcefully to any attack

Defense Minister Benny Gantz issues a clear threat to the Hezbollah terror group overlooking the northern border, saying the Jewish state was prepared to take harsh action against “anyone who tests us,” as the Lebanese militia was suspected of planning to strike Israel in retaliation for the death of one of its fighters earlier this week.

Gantz also indicates Israel will continue to act in Syria and Lebanon, despite the tensions, in order to ensure its security.

“We will continue to ensure our security interests, which include removing Iranian entrenchment in Syria, blocking the transfer of advanced [weapons], and preventing the development of precision [guided missiles] anywhere in the region — in Syria or in Lebanon,” he says.

The defense minister indicates he does not believe that the current situation would lead to a larger conflict or an all-out war, but says he “recommends to the other side not to drag us into that.”

Gantz again warns the governments of Syria and Lebanon that they would be held responsible for any attacks against Israel coming from their territory.

“We don’t want any unnecessary escalations [of violence], but anyone who tests us will meet a very high capability to take action, and I hope we won’t need to use it,” he adds.

The defense minister visited the northern region today, meeting with the top brass of the Northern Command and lower-ranking commanders in the field, amid concerns that Hezbollah would carry out some kind of attack against Israeli military targets after the terror group accused Israel of killing its fighter in an airstrike on Damascus International Airport on Monday night.

The expectation in the military is that Hezbollah will likely retaliate with a missile strike — as it did under similar circumstances last year — or with a sniper attack on Israeli troops or with improvised explosive device planted along the border.

“We believe there can be [security] events on the border. We are prepared for all possibilities,” he says.

Judah Ari Gross

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