UPDATES WITH KATZ’S STATEMENTS ON GAZA
JERUSALEM (AA) – An Israeli minister on Wednesday threatened to strike Iranian positions in Syria, hours after the announcement of a Syrian-Iranian agreement under which Iran would rebuild Syrian military forces.
"Israel will not allow Iran to settle in Syria. We will act with all our might against any Iranian position in Syria that threatens the State of Israel," Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told the Israeli Public Broadcasting Authority.
He said the Syrian-Israeli agreement is “crossing the red line we have set”.
Referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Katz said that if he defended Iranian forces, "he would bear the consequences immediately."
On Monday, Iranian media said Tehran and Damascus signed military and reconstruction agreements during Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami’s visit to Syria.
Israel frequently accuses Tehran of exploiting the ongoing conflict in Syria — where Iran supports the Assad regime — to establish a permanent military presence near Israel’s border.
Meanwhile, Katz described the policy of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the blockaded Gaza Strip as “totally a failure”.
"Israel should take a strategic decision that would change the reality in the Gaza Strip", he said.
"I support a unilateral move on Gaza without dialogue with Hamas, which would achieve three strategic objectives: complete separation of Israel and Gaza in all civil issues and complete separation of security and demography between Gaza, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority," he said.
While the third objective, he added “is to reinforcing the policy of deterrence along the Gaza border”.
"I do not believe in any arrangement with Hamas, neither at the basic level nor at the operational level," Katz said,” he said.
Home to nearly two million people, the Gaza Strip has been reeling under an 11-year Israeli blockade, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its inhabitants of many basic commodities.