Israel informed Russia on Saturday that they still intend to fight back against Hezbollah threats and Iran’s presence in Syria, despite the increase in tensions in recent months between Jerusalem and Moscow over the downing of a Russian plane in Syria last September. Per an Israeli press release, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin of Israel’s “continuing intention to foil the tunnels threat” from Hezbollah that was recently discovered.
Israel is working to destroy multiple tunnels leading into Israel built by the Lebanese terrorist group with the intention of launching large-scale attacks on Israeli communities. In prior comments last week released by his office, Netanyahu told foreign ambassadors the tunnels could allow Hezbollah to launch “a campaign of murder and kidnapping.”
While that’s obviously a key concern, Hezbollah isn’t the only northern threat that Netanyahu discussed with Putin. “I told President Putin that we are continuing our policy: We will not allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria,” said Netanyahu in comments to the Israeli Cabinet released by his office on Sunday. He further noted their plans to continue to act against “the precision weapons in Lebanon.”
Netanyahu has recently pointed out both the tunnel threat from Hezbollah and also the danger of precision-guided missiles as well. In his comments to foreign ambassadors last week, the Israeli premier said that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah “planned to have by now thousands of precision guided missiles, in fact he has a few dozen, and that’s a result of the action that we do including the revelations that I revealed at the [United Nations] about their sites for conversion [into precision-guided missiles].”
The multiple threats from Hezbollah—and the risk of Iranian strongholds near Israel’s northern border in Syria—have been targeted by Israel for a long while. However, an Israeli operation against threats in Syria in September caused a crisis with Russia when a Russian plane was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft weapons responding to the Israeli attack.
Despite Israel’s repeated efforts to explain the situation to Russia and prove they were not to be blamed for Syria’s mistake, the Russian military still accused Israel of actions that caused the incident and announced plans to upgrade Syria’s air defenses according to a report at the time by Sputnik International.
However, Israel and Russia still had plans to coordinate militarily to avoid future incidents, and on Saturday this remained the intention.
“We agreed that the IDF and Russian military coordination delegations will meet soon, hopefully in the coming days, apparently in Moscow,” said Netanyahu on Sunday. “President Putin and I will meet later on. This is in continuation of the very important talk we had in Paris, in order to ensure the continuation of the orderly coordination between the Russian military and the IDF, which has been maintained for several years now.”
Israel-Russian coordination looks to continue to be necessary, as Netanyahu fully intends to continue to act militarily against threats from the north. “IDF soldiers are working methodically and decisively around the clock, even in inclement weather, to expose and neutralize [Hezbollah] tunnel after tunnel,” said Netanyahu on Sunday.
“We need patience, but with the same perseverance we will continue the operation until its conclusion—until the tunnel threat in the north is neutralized. At the same time we are working in the intelligence sphere in order to denounce Hezbollah and Iran and to increase sanctions against both of them.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, December 9, 2018)