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Israel’s defense chief warns of multi-front war, says Iran 'driving force'

According to the Israeli Defense Ministry's data, Hezbollah received $700 million from Iran last year as well as “knowledge and strategic weaponry” such as precision-guided munitions.
An Israeli soldier walks on the turret of a Merkava Mark IV battle tank stationed at a position along Israel's northern border with Lebanon in the vicinity of the village of Shtula on April 6, 2023. - The Israeli army said it intercepted rocket fire from Lebanon on April 6 after clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians inside Islam's third-holiest site drew warnings of retaliation from around the region. (Photo by Oren ZIV / AFP) (Photo by OREN ZIV/AFP via Getty Images)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned on Thursday that the IDF must prepare for a multi-front war in which Israel faces many serious security threats at the same time involving Iran's proxies in the Middle East.

Briefing reporters, Gallant said that "the era of limited conflicts" is over. He saw Israel as facing a new security era with possible threats to all arenas simultaneously. "We operated for years under the assumption that limited conflicts could be managed, but that is a phenomenon that is disappearing. Today, there is a noticeable phenomenon of the convergence of the arenas.” 

Gallant said that Iran is the force driving this new phenomenon of anti-Israel fronts coming together, stating,  “Iran is the driving force in the convergence of the arenas. It transfers resources, ideology, knowledge and training to its proxies.” 

The defense minister was referring to Palestinian militant groups operating in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon,  Lebanon-based Hezbollah and  other Iran-backed militias across the region.

On the level of resources, Gallant said that Iran has increased its financial support to its proxies. According to the Israeli Defense Ministry's data, Hezbollah received $700 million from Iran last year as well as “knowledge and strategic weaponry” such as precision-guided munitions. Hamas received $100 million and tens of millions of dollars went to the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad group. Iran also transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to Iranian-backed militias in Syria and to the Syrian government.

Gallant noted that the increased financing made these groups increasingly dependent on Tehran, thus expanding its regional influence considerably. It also encourages them to dare more and cross red lines they did not cross before. “We will not allow Iran to establish an Iranian army in Syria, we will not allow the Golan Heights to become Lebanon and we will not allow Syrian territory to be a springboard for advanced weapons heading to Lebanon,” he said.

Israel rarely publicly addresses or takes responsibility for aerial attacks in Syria attributed to it by foreign reports. It did not comment on an aerial attack at the beginning of April, when two officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed. Neither did Gallant directly address the recent attacks there. He said only, “The IDF continues to systematically hurt Iranian assets and targets in the region.” He also noted, “We are working on all this on a large scale. Since I took office, in the first quarter of 2023 the rate of attacks in Syria doubled.”

Speaking on the Iranian nuclear program, Gallant said, “Iran is closer than ever to reaching military nuclear capability. In the face of this threat, we must act in one of two ways: military action or a credible military threat.” 

“While Israel is busy dealing with Iran’s proxies, Iran is getting stronger economically and militarily and this gives it room for action. This is something that should keep the whole world, and Israel, awake at night,” he added.

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