Israel raised on Tuesday its hostile rhetoric against Lebanon when a number of ministers spoke of waging a “destructive” war against it over the flow of Iranian weapons to it and amid claims that it has set up rocket factories there.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “We know where the Iranian rocket factory is located and the sides that were involved in its establishment.”
The Iranian influence in the region, particularly over Syria and Lebanon, was at the heart of talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday.
The PM said that the discussions tackled whether Iran will set up base in Syria and whether it will continue or cease its regional expansion.
“If it does not stop, then we will put an end to it,” he added.
On Lebanon, he said that precision-guided weapons have been detected there, which is a “dangerous threat we are not willing to accept. If we have to take action, then we will.”
Netanyahu said that rocket factories are being constructed in Lebanon. “Israel is not trying to escalate the situation, but our interests demand that the Israeli army and security forces be prepared,” he went on to say.
“The Russians know very well our position and how seriously we take these threats,” he stressed.
Commenting on security coordination in northern Israel with Russia, he said: “Russian forces are on our border with Syria and we are successfully preserving our interests.”
In Tel Aviv, Lieberman said during a meeting with his Yisrael Beiteinu party at the Knesset that Iran is attempting to establish a “tight belt” around Israel.
He recalled how Tehran tried to set up military bases in Syria, adding that Israel will work against such a presence in the region.
“We can work not just through bombs,” he warned, while remarking however: “Waging a third war against Lebanon is the last thing I want.”
Minister Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party was more hostile in his threats, saying during a meeting with his bloc on Tuesday: “If ‘Hezbollah’ and Iran continue to establish rocket factories in Lebanon, then they will bring about tragedy on to its people.”
Developing precision-guided rockets is a dangerous development and “we will not accept it,” he warned.
“Israel is not concerned about another war in the North, but it will act if the situation demands it,” he added.
“Let it be known that for Israel, ‘Hezbollah’ means the whole of Lebanon. The people of Lebanon should understand that this time, the war will not be limited to Dahieh, but it will go much farther beyond that. They should therefore review their calculations,” said the minister.
Beirut’s southern suburbs of Dahieh is a “Hezbollah” stronghold and it was one of Israel’s main targets in the last war it waged against Lebanon in July 2006.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking Russian security delegation, headed by National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, arrived in Israel on Tuesday to discuss security coordination over Syria. The Iranian rocket factories in Lebanon will also top their talks agenda.
Israel estimated that the Iranians made actual attempts to construct a precision-guided rocket factory in Lebanon. The purpose of the factory is to put an end to Israel’s airstrikes against rocket shipments from Syria to Lebanon.
According to foreign reports, the foundations for an underground factory were constructed in Lebanon, but it was discovered by Israel, which forced the termination of the project. Some Israeli officials speculated that Iran has not completely abandoned this project and has perhaps moved it to a different location in Lebanon.