Israel fears balloon terrorism

By Monitoring Desk
Wednesday – August 12, 2020
JERUSALEM (Israel): Israeli prime minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu, Tuesday, held that the perpetrators of balloon terrorism will pay a heavy price and that such actions will not be tolerated.

According to an official statement, Israeli PM Netanyahu held a security tour of Hatzor air force base in which he was briefed by Israel defence forces (IDF) chief-of-staff lieutenant general (Lt.-Gen.) Aviv Kochavi and general officer commanding (GOC) air force major general (Maj.-Gen.) Amikam Norkin regarding an F-16 squadron.

Israeli PM Netanyahu was briefed on air force operations in general and squadron 105 in particular. He also toured an exhibit of air force advanced measures and special weaponry, spoke with aircrew, and air defence soldiers who carry out operational activity in times of routine, as well as during special situations and emergencies.

He mentioned, “We view balloon terrorism with utmost gravity and you will see the results of this very quickly” threatening “It is more important that Hamas and Islamic Jihad see the harsh implications of this ordeal. It will have harsh results and a very heavy price.”

“I have just finished a briefing and tour at an air force base with the chief-of-staff and commander of the air force. The air force operates in a 360-degree radius against the threats to the State of Israel. 95 percent of these threats originate in Iran. Iran threatens us with nuclear weapons, precision missiles and unguided missiles, with proxies in Lebanon and Gaza, and in other places.

“I praised the operations of the air force. I would like to make it clear to all of Iran’s proxies, including in Gaza: balloon terrorism will have a heavy price. We will not tolerate this. We will take action and exact a heavy price. They should remember that we have done this in the past, because we will do it now as well.

“Moreover, we must pass a budget quickly in order to meet the needs of the squadrons and of the IDF to provide for our defence and to give us offensive capability.

“Our ability is very high and needs to be higher still. We do not stop for a moment. At the same time, we are fighting the coronavirus. We are also safeguarding the security of Israel everywhere — near and far,” Israeli PM Netanyahu remarked.

Separately, Israeli foreign minister (FM) Gabi Ashkenazi, Tuesday, held that the political instability within Lebanon has allowed Hezbollah to essentially take over the entire country politically, militarily, and economically, all at Iran’s command and that Iran has taken Lebanon hostage through Hezbollah.

He hosted a political-security briefing along Israel’s northern border with the ambassadors of twelve member states of the Security Council, ahead of its deliberations later today on Resolution 1701. The Council is expected to discuss United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) mandate, with the decision on its renewal to be taken by the end of August.

Israeli FM Ashkenazi said, “Resolution 1701 was designed to prevent Hezbollah and its Iranian masters from turning southern Lebanon into a hotbed of terrorism and homicidal capacities, serving as such to effectively prevent another military confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah.

“Israel supports a mandate that strengthen UNIFIL’s ability to effectively carry out its mission; its mandate will be rendered worthless otherwise. Unfortunately, the reality in southern Lebanon is not depicted in the reports of the United Nations Secretary-General.”

He added, “Israel cannot remain indifferent while Hezbollah continuously attempts to breach Israel’s sovereignty and harm its citizens. Hezbollah operates out of densely populated urban areas and uses Lebanese citizens as a human shield. We all witnessed this in last week’s tragic event, in which innocent Lebanese civilians were killed, and thousands more injured. 

“Israel offered the Lebanese government humanitarian aid, and is prepared to transfer equipment and receive injured civilians. 

“The political instability within Lebanon has allowed Hezbollah to essentially take over the entire country politically, militarily, and economically, all at Iran’s command. Iran has taken Lebanon hostage through Hezbollah.”

Israeli FM Ashkenazi further briefed the ambassadors on the American proposal to extend the arms embargo on Iran, stating, “Israel absolutely supports the extension of the arms embargo on Iran. This is an imperative step in light of Iran’s aggression across the Middle East, its support of terrorism, and the threat it poses to regional stability.

“Arming Iran will threaten the stability of the Middle East, and we must all cooperate towards preventing this prospect. Containing the Iranian regime’s belligerence is not just in the interest of Israel, or of countries in the Middle East. It is an interest and moral obligation of all countries the world over.

“Weakening pressure on Iran now will only lead to failure, and this kind of policy approach has already proven so in the past. We expect the Security Council’s member states to support the American proposal to extend the embargo. Any position otherwise will only serve to increase the aggression of Iran and its proxies.” 

Present at the briefing were ambassadors and deputy ambassadors from the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China, Germany, Ireland, Kenya, South Africa, Vietnam, and the Dominican Republic.