Iran built a base for terrorist operations at an airport in southern Lebanon’s Qalaat Jabbour mountain region, 12 miles from the border with the Jewish state, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant revealed on Monday.
“In the pictures, you can see the Iranian flag flying over the runways, from which the ayatollah regime plans to operate against the citizens of Israel,” Gallant said in his remarks at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT)’s 22nd World Summit on Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya.
“Put differently, the land is Lebanese, the control is Iranian, and the target is Israel,” he said, adding that the Israel Defense Forces must “remain aware and ready, with our eyes set on the binoculars and our fingers on the trigger.
“If it comes to a conflict, we will not hesitate to activate the lethal force of the IDF. Hezbollah and Lebanon will pay heavy and painful prices,” he warned.
Gallant, together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, last month charged Tehran with orchestrating the most recent surge in Palestinian terrorism, which saw three Israelis killed and one seriously wounded in just under 72 hours in August.
“We are in the midst of a terror onslaught that is being encouraged, directed and financed by Iran and its proxies,” said Netanyahu on Aug. 21 following a situational assessment held at the site of one of the attacks near Hebron in Judea.
“It is important to understand the significant change that is taking place on the ground; it is related to Iranian funding and to the proliferation of weapons under the Iranian directive. Iran seeks every means to harm the citizens of Israel,” Gallant noted at the time, warning the mullahs that “all options are on the table.”
Two weeks ago, Israel’s National Security Council cautioned citizens to remain vigilant while traveling over the upcoming Jewish holiday period. The updated travel warning cited a higher risk of Iranian terrorism in both neighboring and faraway countries including Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, as well as in countries in Africa and Latin America.
The Mossad intelligence agency, in cooperation with its international allies, has so far in 2023 foiled 27 plots by Iran to murder Israelis and Jews outside the borders of the Jewish state, the agency’s Director David Barnea revealed in his speech to the conference in Herzliya on Sunday.
“The plots being pursued by these [terrorist] teams were orchestrated, masterminded and directed by Iran,” he said, noting that the attempted attacks occurred “all over the world,” including “in Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia and South America.”
Israel’s top spy also spoke about “Iran’s known nuclear weapon ambitions,” calling on the international community to “be on high alert and demonstrate unflagging determination to foil these ambitions.”
For his part, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi told attendees on Monday that Israel will have “no choice” but to act if Iran enriches uranium above 60% purity.
“If Iran moves to enrich uranium above 60% and we identify it—and there is no possibility that we won’t, that the world would not recognize it—the result is that Israel would act out of necessity,” said Hanegbi. “There would be no choice.”
Such a development would indicate that “Iran is clearly pursuing a [nuclear] bomb, as a policy, and we cannot risk our fate,” added Hanegbi, without specifying how Jerusalem would respond.