Gantz: Israel Will Not Allow Hezbollah or Iran Entrench Themselves on Golan Heights

YERUSHALAYIM -
Drilling machinery is seen close to the site where Israel discovered a new cross-border tunnel from the Gaza Strip that extended dozens of meters underground and into southern Israel, along the border with the Gaza Strip, Wednesday. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Israel will not allow terrorist entities aligned with Hezbollah or Iran to entrench themselves on the Israeli Golan Heights border, and will do whatever is necessary to push them back, Defense Minister Benny Gantz told Israel Radio in an interview on Wednesday morning, following reports from Syria that IDF tanks had fired on targets near Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights overnight.

The Syrian media reported that the targets were used by forces affiliated with Hezbollah, and claimed that IDF tanks had also fired on a Syrian army base in the area.

When Gantz was asked what transpired in Syria overnight, he responded, “We are operating on all fronts. I won’t get into who fired at what overnight … things happen.”

While the IDF is keeping mum on the reported events near Quneitra, it did confirm strikes on underground Hamas infrastructure in retaliation for a rocket fired at southern Israel on Tuesday evening.

At 11:25 p.m., the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit put out a notification that read: “A short while ago, IDF fighter jets and combat helicopters struck underground infrastructure belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in the southern Gaza Strip.”

The IDF explained that the strikes were a response to the rocket fired at southern Israel from Gaza earlier Tuesday evening.

Hazem Qasim, a spokesman for Hamas, discussed the events and said that they were linked to Israel’s normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and accused the Gulf Arab states of silently agreeing to what he called “Israeli aggression.”

“The delegation from the United Arab Emirates arrived to complete the normalization agreements. Tonight, the IDF carried out strikes in Gaza and in Syria. Normalization encourages the occupation to continue its aggression and its settlement policy,” Qasim said.

In the interview, Gantz also addressed the rift between his Blue and White party and the Likud that threatens the unity of the coalition and seems increasingly likely to lead to national elections within coming months. The current focus is on the state budget, and Gantz said that “all the resources of the Treasury and of the state’s apparatus should now be channeled into the 2021 budget and advancing it as fast as possible. I didn’t enter the government in order to serve as Netanyahu’s lackey – I entered the government in order to serve the citizens of Israel.”