Gantz threatens to strike Lebanon if Hezbollah attacks Israel

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz threatens to strike the country of Lebanon if its Hezbollah terror group launches an attack on Israel.

“If a [fighting] front breaks out in the north, the country of Lebanon will be the one to pay the heaviest of prices for the weapons that have been scattered in civilian population centers,” Gantz says.

The defense minister makes his remarks at a memorial ceremony for the 73 soldiers killed in the 1997 Helicopters Disaster, when two transport helicopters collided over northern Israel as they were full of soldiers heading to IDF positions in southern Lebanon.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz seen during a visit on the Israel-Lebanon border, northern Israel, on November 17, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Speaking at the same event, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi says the military is working constantly to target weapons that would be used against the Jewish state.

“Almost every week we operate in enemy territory in order to destroy weaponry that is directed at or is intended to harm the State of Israel and its citizens,” Kohavi says.

Gantz says the reason Lebanon will be targeted in any future conflict is because Hezbollah has established his weapons caches and launchpads within heavily populated civilian areas.

“We have clarified — again and again — that we will not allow Hezbollah and the Iranians to turn Lebanon into a terror state. Today, the IDF operates and will continue to operate along the border line and beyond it,” Gantz says.

“We will not hesitate to strike Iran’s efforts to rearm and entrench itself beyond our borders. And [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah knows well that his decision to build bunkers full of munitions and missiles and to position Hezbollah capabilities is a danger to himself and to the citizens of the state of Lebanon,” the defense minister says, calling on the Lebanese government to “take responsibility.”

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