Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel has said that Iran is setting up sites in Syria and Lebanon to produce missiles.
Netanyahu has noted that Syria was being turned into a base of military entrenchment with the aim of attacking Israel.
After the Iranian revolution in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini came into power. He did not like Israel’s friendly equation with the previous regime. He declared that Israel was an enemy to Islam.
The already tense relations further deteriorated during the 90s. The two nations started fighting in proxy wars against one another during the tenure of Mahmud Ahmedinijiad, the President of Iran from 2005 to 2013. In 2006, reports emerged that Iran had provided aid to Hezbollah fighters (a group that Israel considers a terrorist outfit) during the Lebanon War.
Israel is said to have carried out three specific airstrikes targeting Iranians during the Gaza conflict. The two nations have since blamed one another for terror attacks, assassination, cyberattacks and more.
In 2017, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen said, "As long as the current regime exists, with the nuclear agreement or without it, Iran will continue to serve as the main threat to Israel's security.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks were made to António Guterres the United Nations Secretary-General. Guterres is on a four-day visit to Israel. Netanyahu said that with Iran’s assistance, Syria would become a “base of military entrenchment as part of its declared goal to eradicate Israel".
According to the Prime Minister, precision-guided missiles were being produced in these sites. He said, “Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as war fronts [in] its declared goal to eradicate Israel. It is also building sites to produce precision- guided missiles toward that end in both Syria and in Lebanon. This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the UN should not accept.”
Guterres expressed his solidarity for the state of Israel noting, “I understand the security concerns of Israel and I repeat that the idea or the intention or the will to destroy the state of Israel is something totally unacceptable from my perspective.” He noted that the UN would "always be very frank in the dialogue with the State of Israel". He also added that the body was committed to ensuring anti-semitism does not prevail in the world.
He also has promised to ensure that UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) is able to meet its goals and obligations. UNIFIL is a demilitarized zone created by the UN in Lebanon. It is a peacekeeping mission whose main function is to provide aid.
Guterres will now be meeting Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister in the West Bank. He will also visit the Gaza Strip.
Iran is yet to comment on Israel’s statements.
Our assessment is that Iran has no intent to eradicate or destroy Israel. It is quite obvious that a politically weak Netanyahu who is embroiled in controversy is trying to ratchet up the Iranian threat to deflect some of the pressures that he has back home. Both the countries are trying to ensure that they stay relevant in the Middle East discourse and are finding new allies to strengthen their sphere of influence.