Published on : 09/12/2017
By : Arista Asmawati
"Lebanon was kidnapped by a terror organization operated by another country," charges Israel's former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon," and the world has become accustomed to it."
The international community is failing to deal with terrorism-producing countries and has become accustomed to Lebanon being held hostage by a terrorist organization, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Tuesday.
One must ask why “the world has become accustomed to the fact that Lebanon was kidnapped by a terrorist organization operated by another country. But the reality is that the international community has become used to the world order and does not deal with it,” he said at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s 17th annual conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
Brig.-Gen. Ram Yavne, the head of the IDF’s Strategic Division, said at the conference that while there are currently no major state-military threats to Israel, Iran continues to arm Hezbollah, transforming the Lebanese terrorist organization into a near-state actor in terms of military strength
According to Yavne, as an Iranian proxy Hezbollah’s intense military force build-up and its acquisition of advanced lethal capability is a major threat not only to Israel but to regional stability.
Israeli officials have issued several warnings recently on Iran’s increased presence in the region and recent statements by leaders in Tehran’s proxy army Hezbollah indicating an expansion of coordination with Lebanon’s armed forces.
Israel last fought against Hezbollah in the 34-day Second Lebanon War in 2006. And while both the IDF and the Shi’ite terrorist group have stated that neither side is interested in another conflict, Hezbollah has rebuilt its arsenal and has morphed into an army-like organization.
Senior Israeli and IDF officials have warned that in the event of another round of fighting with Hezbollah, the IDF would not only target Hezbollah targets, but targets throughout Lebanon, including its infrastructure.
According to Ya’alon, a decision by the group to attack Israel would not be made in Lebanon by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, but by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran.
Iran, Ya’alon said, is more of a threat than the Islamic State group that is currently fighting to retain control over territory in Iraq and Syria after losing significant portions to Iraqi- and US-backed coalition forces.
“The Iranian regime continues to violate United Nations Security Council resolutions and distributes weapons and terrorism,” he said. “It transfers arms to Lebanon and Yemen, for example, and does not pay a price. There are enough reasons to impose sanctions on Iran and even worsen the existing ones.”
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilead, director of the Institute for Policy and Strategy and chairman of the Herzliya Conference Series at IDC Herzliya, also warned that Tehran and its proxy groups will likely flood into the territory lost by Islamic State.
“What is worse than the Islamic State? It’s the Iranian threat,” said Gilead, who first warned the security cabinet in 1996 that Tehran was turning into a strategic threat due to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs
Ya’alon also criticized Turkey’s conduct, saying that the NATO member helped finance Islamic State by buying oil from the Sunni terrorist organization and allowing people to pass freely through its territory in order to join the group in Syria and Iraq and then back to their home countries as trained terrorists.
According to both Ya’alon and Yavne, it is imperative to have the best possible intelligence in order to prevent attacks, and that requires intelligence cooperation between governmental bodies and countries.
Gilead, who made several trips to Jordan and Egypt during his military career, said Israel managed to forge contacts and connections with its neighbors, and the ability thus gained to fight terrorism is “worth its weight in gold.”
Yavne stressed the cooperation between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors to prevent attacks, noting that Israel cooperates with Egypt in the Sinai Peninsula and as well as with Jordan, which has a legitimate fear of terrorist attacks in the kingdom.
“Israel’s intelligence gathering makes up for our size,” he said.