Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman vowed on Thursday, September 7, to take necessary steps to prevent Tehran from creating a “Shi’a corridor” in the Middle East and “defend our own people”.
Lieberman made the pledge just hours after Israel allegedly bombed a military center affiliated with the Syrian regime, in city of Masyaf, in Hama province. The military center was suspected to be producing chemical weapons and precision missiles.
Immediately after the airstrike on Thursday morning, Syria officially complained to the UN.
“We are not seeking any military adventure in Syria but we are determined to prevent our enemies from harming, or even creating the opportunity to harm the security of Israeli citizens,” Liberman told Israel’s Radio FM 100.
“Therefore, everything will be done to prevent the existence of a Shi’a corridor from Tehran to Damascus,” he asserted.
According to the Israeli and international media the military center, briefly known as SERS, is Syrian army’s institution for Scientific Studies and Research where missiles were manufactured and, in the past, produced chemical weapons, including poisonous Sarin gas.
The Syrian army has warned Israel of “serious consequences” for its “aggressive activities” which “destabilize the region” and “raise the Islamic State (IS) morale”.
Meanwhile, it was not the first time that Israel was insisting that it would not stand idly by, watching the Islamic Republic’s efforts to establish a Shi’a corridor and a permanent military presence near its borders.
"Iran, through the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, is attempting to create a new reality around us with air force and naval bases in Syria,...It is doing this with Shi’a militias that are made up of thousands of mercenaries and by building plants to manufacture smart weaponry in Lebanon.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu during his recent meeting with Russian president, Vladimir Putin in Sochi highlighted the dangers of what he called “the Islamic epublic of Iran’s expanding presence in Syria”.
“Iranians presence near our borders is one of the most sensitive concerns that we regularly receive reports on it,” Lieberman stressed.
“Iran, through the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, is attempting to create a new reality around us with air force and naval bases in Syria," Lieberman added, “It is doing this with Shi’a militias that are made up of thousands of mercenaries and by building plants to manufacture smart weaponry in Lebanon.”
“Nevertheless”, Lieberman immediately emphasized, “Israel is not going to stand idly by”.
Lieberman went further by warning, “Whenever it comes to security, Israel has always relied on itself and never waited for the foreigners. Therefore, once again I decisively say, ‘all options are on the table’.”
Moreover, Minister of Education Naftali Bennett has also insisted, “We'll do everything in our power to ensure no Iranians will stand at our borders”.
Bennet noted, “At the end of the day, whether we're turning to the US or to Russia, we'll try to harness them but won't rely solely on them”.
“Israel reserves the right to defend itself by itself, including against the Iranians near our borders. We're always keeping up-to-date on the processes in play here, it's one of the more vital and sensitive issues on our plate. At the moment, as we speak, Iran is funneling Shi’a and Iranian militias into Syria.” Ynet News cited Bennet as saying.
According to many Israeli analysts, these comments are a reaction to Benjamin Netanyahu’s “not much successful” visit to Russia and his meeting with Russian President, Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, August 23.
In less than two years, Netanyahu went to Russian port of Sochi to meet Putin for the sixth time.
For three full hours, the Israeli Prime minister tried to gain Russian president’s support for his position against the Islamic republic of Iran.
“Driving Iran out of the region, firstly, requires driving it and its allies out of the areas close to Israel’s borders,” Eizenkot said. “This is a challenge, probably the most important challenge Israel is currently facing.”
“Iran seeks the “Lebanonization” of Syria, something Israel cannot tolerate” the Israeli Prime Minister said after his discussion with Putin.
However, Netanyahu did not succeed and regardless of his efforts, Moscow once again insisted that “Iran is Russia’s strategic counterpart in Syria”.
Furthermore, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Vasiky Alekseevich Nebenzya reiterated, “Iran is playing a very constructive role in Syria”.
Earlier, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. General Gadi Eizenkot had also declared on Wednesday, July 5, “Keeping Iran far from Israel’s borders and reducing its influence near Israel is no less important than defeating the Islamic State”.
Cited in Israeli Daily Haaretz, General Eizenkot made the comments at the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
“Driving Iran out of the region, firstly, requires driving it and its allies out of the areas close to Israel’s borders,” Eizenkot said. “This is a challenge, probably the most important challenge Israel is currently facing,” he added.
General Eizenkot listed Hezbollah, Syria and Iran as the most dangerous factors currently threatening Israel.
The top Israeli commander noted the increasingly dangerous firepower his country faces. “Iran, Syria and Hezbollah’s attempts at improving the accuracy of their missiles, while also trying to obtain more of them, are at the top of Israel’s threat list,” General Eizenkot reportedly said.
“We are conducting an entire campaign against the ‘precision project,’ [ED: of rockets and missiles] which is at the top of our priorities,” Eizenkot added.