Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Tuesday that Iran had attempted to smuggle explosives to terrorists in the West Bank using a drone it launched from Syria, but that Israel had intercepted it near the border.
Speaking at the Security and Policy Conference at the Reichman University in Herzliya, he said that in February 2018, Iran launched a Shahed 141 drone from the T-4 airbase in Syria carrying TNT, bound for the West Bank. It was shot down near the town of Beit She'an in northern Israel.
"Iran is not only a threat to Israel, but to the entire global community, therefore the time to act is now," Gantz said.
"Must not allow Iran to become a nuclear power, which will lead to its terror activities running rampant across the region and even trigger an arms race in the Middle East."
He said Iran is striving to become "a global hegemon" in order to impose its extreme ideology "in which human rights are trampled, LGBT people are hanged, women are excluded and resources are allocated for the enrichment of the regime".
Gantz said Tehran is also operating outside the region by trafficking oil and weapons to Venezuela, mobilizing its Quds Force (elite branch of Revolutionary Guard Corps) in South America and attempting to increase its influence in Afghanistan.
He also accused Iran of carrying out attacks on maritime targets from bases in Chabahar and Qeshem island, saying that these sites were also used to store combat drones.
Gulf Arab countries share Israeli concerns about such drones, seeing the hand of Iran or its allies in aerial attacks on shipping or on energy facilities in Saudi Arabia. Tehran has often denied such allegations.
In addition, the chief of Israel's air force proposed working with Arab partners - such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, with which Israel formalized ties last year - against the drone threat.
"I think that this is a great opportunity to create contacts and to build a defense plan for all the countries that have a common interest in protecting themselves," Major-General Amikam Norkin said.
"We can help significantly (against drones), whether in terms of intelligence, detection or interception."
Speaking ahead of Gantz and Norkin, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett signaled readiness to step up Israel's confrontation with Iran and reiterated that his country would not be bound by any new Iranian nuclear deal with world powers.
"Israel is of course not a party to the deal and Israel is not obligated by the deal," Bennett said.
Reuters contributed to this report