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April 16, 2018 3:07 pm

Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman Reiterates: We Will Not Permit Iranian Entrenchment in Syria

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Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

Israel will do what is necessary to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a pre-Independence Day Walla interview that was published on Monday.

Lieberman declined to confirm or deny Israel’s involvement in an air strike last week on an air base in Syria’s Homs region — an incident in which seven Iranian military personnel were reportedly killed.

“We don’t interfere in Syria’s internal affairs and we’re not coming to fix the world,” Lieberman told Walla. “We’re dealing only with Israel’s security, and the Russians understand this well.”

Regarding Israel’s freedom of action in Syria — where the Russian military has been operating for the past two and a half years on behalf of President Bashar Assad’s regime — Lieberman said, “We won’t accept any limitations when it comes to Israel’s security interests. We’ve managed to prevent direct friction with the Russians and we talk to them all the time. We have a steady line of communications that has proven itself.”

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“All options are on the table,” Lieberman continued. “We will not allow a situation in which Syria serves as a front base against Israel.”

Hezbollah and Hamas, according to Lieberman, “could not exist for one day without Iranian support.”

Lieberman also said that Israel would not let the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip become an “Iranian front base.”

Israel’s vision for Gaza’s future, Lieberman stated, involves demilitarization, followed by a prisoner swap and, ultimately, rehabilitation.

“Gaza Strip residents have to understand that they can become the Singapore of the Middle East,” he said. “In the Gaza Strip, they realize that Hamas is bringing them nothing except frustration and poverty, because Hamas keeps investing money in tunneling and missile manufacturing. Instead of talking about how to destroy the State of Israel, it must talk about living alongside the State of Israel. As long as Hamas is in control there, there will be nothing.”

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