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September 21, 2022 2:44 pm

Israeli Military, Defense Chiefs: Hezbollah Endangering Lebanese Citizens on Behalf of Iran

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IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi in Paris, France on September 21, 2022. Photo: IDF

Israel’s military and defense chiefs on Wednesday both warned against Hezbollah’s continued entrenchment in Lebanon, saying its activities ultimately pose a grave threat to that country’s citizens.

While in Paris on Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi met with Gen. Thierry Burkhard, chief of the French armed forces, and other senior French military officials, in part to discuss Iran, its top proxy group Hezbollah, and challenges on the Lebanese border.

“We presented our French colleagues with intelligence that proves that the terrorist army, Hezbollah, has recently been increasing its negative activities, in a way that creates an increasing risk of escalation and seeks to endanger Israel, but in practice also Lebanon and its citizens,” said Kochavi.

He accused Hezbollah of taking Lebanese citizens “hostage” and “making cynical use of civilian infrastructure” for military activities, and addressed the international community’s “important role” in demanding that the Lebanese government extend its sovereignty over the country’s security.

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“Hezbollah’s actions as a terrorist organization are an example of how it prevents positive change in Lebanon and thus preserves a failed system, and in practice also serves Iranian interests in the region,” added Kochavi.

The Israeli military has long warned that Hezbollah is endangering Lebanese civilians by embedding weapons stockpiles and other military infrastructure — including launch sites, command and control posts, and underground tunnels — within residential areas. The Iranian proxy maintains a particularly dense military presence in civilian areas of southern Lebanon, according to the IDF, and is estimated to have stockpiled more than 100,000 rockets and missiles, including precision guided missiles, since its 2006 war with Israel.

“We are working even harder against Iran’s entrenchment in the Middle East,” said Kochavi.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a similar warning on Wednesday, cautioning Lebanese citizens against allowing Iran to establish military bases on their country’s soil. “Through Hezbollah, Iran is trying to buy Lebanon by supplying fuel and building power plants,” Gantz said.

“Lebanon’s energy dependence on Iran could lead to the establishment of Iranian bases on Lebanese soil and the destabilization of the region,” he added, “and if when happens, the citizens of Lebanon will be the ones to pay the price.”

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