The Italian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee ‎held a special session on the Middle East on Wednesday that focused ‎on Iran and Hezbollah.

The session was convened a week after Italian Deputy ‎Prime Minister Matteo Salvini visited Israel and sparked a ‎political firestorm in his country by stating that ‎Hezbollah operatives are terrorists.

‎President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs ‎and former director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry Dore Gold attended the session, as did former Italian Parliament member Fiamma Nirenstein, ‎who is currently a JCPA fellow.‎

Italian Maj.-Gen. Stefano Del Col currently commands ‎the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNFIL), whose ‎troops included an Italian contingent. Salvini’s ‎remarks sparked concerns the Italian troops would become targets ‎of Hezbollah revenge attacks.

Several members of Italy’s ruling party, the Five Stars Movement, ‎protested during Wednesday’s session, claiming that Hezbollah, ‎which wields considerable political clout in ‎Lebanon, was “part of the Lebanese people, and ‎therefore, its agents cannot be labeled ‎terrorists.”

Gold rejected this argument, giving several examples ‎of Hezbollah terrorist activities, including the ‎recently discovered grid of attack tunnels Hezbollah ‎has dug under the Israel-Lebanon border. ‎

“‎Israel has just exposed a fourth tunnel dug from ‎Lebanon into northern Israel,” Gold told the forum. “These tunnels were ‎designed to facilitate the occupation of civilian ‎Israeli territory, to kill civilians or to take them ‎hostage. Is that not terrorism? Keep in mind that Hezbollah invented ‎suicide-bombings long before the Sunnis.”

Gold further stressed that Hezbollah was Iran’s ‎regional proxy, and as such, was aiding Iran’s efforts to ‎export the Islamic Revolution.‎

In this context, he noted that Iran was ‎consciously acting to carry out a population ‎exchange of in Syria, saying, “They [Iran] are ‎transferring Shi’ite militias and Pakistani, Afghani ‎and Iraqi fighters ‎to Syria.”‎

Earlier this week, the Italian Parliament’s Foreign ‎Affairs Committee hosted Iranian officials, who ‎reiterated Tehran’s objections to Israel’s ‎existence. ‎

Nirenstein, who prior to immigrating to Israel ‎served as deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs ‎Committee in former Prime Minister Silvio ‎Berlusconi’s government, said that the Europeans ‎must understand that the 2015 nuclear agreement with ‎Iran was dangerous not only to Israel, but also to ‎Europe.‎