ISRAEL SAYS IT CAN FIGHT MORE THAN ONE WAR AT A TIME, TELLS IRAN TO ‘GET OUT’ OF SYRIA
Israel and Iran have long swapped existential threats, with the latter claiming influential allies such as the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement active in both its native Lebanon as well as Syria, two countries bordering Israel. Just days after his own outgoing top military commander admitted Israel’s role in backing an insurgency in Syria, Netanyahu dismissed Iranian claims that Tehran only played an advisory role in Syria’s civil war. And he warned Iran to exit the war-torn country that has been repeatedly targeted by semisecret Israeli strikes.
“I advise them to get out of there fast because we will continue our offensive policy as we promised and as we do without fear and without pause,” Netanyahu told an audience gathered to inaugurate incoming chief of staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi.
Netanyahu vowed to continue developing Israel’s advanced military capabilities, promising to “ensure a crushing blow against both close and distant enemies” and prepare the country for a “multitheater campaign.”
Israel has extensive experience fighting wars on multiple fronts. Upon its 1948 establishment, the country first battled a coalition of Arab states opposed to the displacement of Palestinians and would go on to fight two more wars against its hostile neighbors. Though Israel technically remains at war with Lebanon to the north and Syria to the northwest, an increasingly powerful Iran has emerged as the country’s archfoe in recent years.
Israel has fought two major wars with Iran’s top regional partner, Hezbollah, along with a series of border skirmishes. Upon the outbreak of a civil war prompted by Western and Gulf Arab support for insurgents attempting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Iran and Russia, Hezbollah and other revolutionary Shiite Muslim forces came to the leader’s aid, compelling Israel to launch airstrikes and to support rebel groups until the border areas were retaken by the Syrian government last summer.
Israel has long contended that its aid was limited to humanitarian assistance, but outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy and Newsweek reported on direct military backing for groups attempting to overthrow the Syrian government. On Saturday, outgoing Israeli chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot confirmed that his forces supplied Syrian insurgents “for self-defense” and expanded upon a previous assessment by Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz estimating in September that Israel took “military action more than 200 times within Syria itself” in the past two years” against suspected Iranian and Iran-backed targets.
Read More: News Week
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