Photo: Avi Moalem
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon
Photo: Avi Moalem

Kahlon: We'll do everything to kick Iranians out of Syria

Finance minister sends direct message to Tehran following Wednesday night's escalation, saying Iranian entrenchment in Syria will be met with zero tolerance from Israel. 'Go home, you have nothing to do there,' he says.

If the Treasury is convinced that the defense establishment needs more money and resources—it will receive them, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon told Ynet on Thursday morning following Wednesday night's escalation between Israel and Iran in Syria.



"We see the security threats to the State of Israel eye to eye," he added.


Kahlon said he was amazed when he first heard about the amount of missiles Hezbollah has accumulated.


Kahlon at the Ynet studio, Thursday (Photo: Moshe Kahlon)
Kahlon at the Ynet studio, Thursday (Photo: Moshe Kahlon)


The Political-Security Cabinet will convene for a special discussion at the Kirya Base in Tel Aviv at 5:30 pm Thursday, following the Israeli attack on 50 Iranian targets overnight in response to 20 rockets fired at the Golan Heights from Syria.


Conveying a direct message to Tehran, Kahlon said: "Go home. You have nothing to do in Syria, especially when you target Israel. You want to build hotels or resorts? Fine. But if you come there as an army, to open another front, we already have Hezbollah, and now we'll have Syria, and we have Gaza, thank you very much. They have nothing to do in Syria, definitely not as an army and definitely not as an entrenchment, and we will pursue a zero tolerance policy."


Addressing the fortification budget, Kahlon said offered the following example: "Several months ago, the defense minister asked for an extra 150 million shekels to fortify public facilities in the north. We transferred the money. I said to the Defense Ministry and to the chief of staff, 'If you're missing any money, we'll add more. We'll sit down, hold discussions and look into it. If it's true, we'll give you the money."


Israeli tanks in the Golan Heights (Photo: Reuters)
Israeli tanks in the Golan Heights (Photo: Reuters)


According to the finance minister, the Treasury allotted a sum "according to the Defense Ministry and army's demand. Let them work, let them do whatever it takes. They have our support. If they need more, we'll transfer more.


"Three years ago," Kahlon said, "I attended a cabinet meeting for the first time and we were presented with a report on Lebanon and on the amount of missiles Hezbollah has. I said to myself, 'Where were we this entire time? How did we let this happen? The prime minister and cabinet's decision not to allow an Iranian entrenchment in Syria is absolutely correct. Otherwise, we won't be able to explain to our children how the Iranians entrenched themselves there, closed our airspace and are covering half of the country with missiles."


As for the security tensions in the north, Kahlon said "it's no secret that the Iranians tried to retaliate the events of the past few weeks." The sense of euphoria following the overnight military operation is the real threat, he said. "That's exactly where the danger lies, in complacence and euphoria.


"The army was prepared, ready and alert ahead of this operation and we have an intelligence advantage there. It's no secret," he added. "On the other hand, the IDF hasn't exhausted even 50 percent of its abilities in this case. The IDF has other goals and abilities to thwart such attacks on Israel. Every activity that threatens Israel's security will be met with the harshest and most painful response."


 (Photo: AFP)
(Photo: AFP)


Asked what would be the next step if Wednesday night's operation failed to deter the Iranians, Kahlon said: "'We'll do whatever we have to do to kick them out of there.


"Any preventive measure that should be taken is being taken. At the moment, they are having a lot of trouble entrenching themselves because of our supremacy at this time, both from an intelligence perspective and from an operational perspective. We must implement it and send the Iranians back home. We have no business with them. This isn't their border. We share a border with Syria, and we even share a border with Gaza and with Lebanon. The Iranians, apart from threatening to destroy the State of Israel, aren't doing anything else."


Lapid: I warned EU an escalation was inevitable

Meanwhile Thursday, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid criticized European leaders following the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran.


"They must stop burying their head in the sand and thinking that the Iranians will become Norwegian," he told the Herzliya Conference. "I warned the European Union that an escalation was inevitable and that they shouldn’t try to appease Iran but rather act against it aggressively and without any hesitations."


Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid at the Herzliya Conference, Thursday (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid at the Herzliya Conference, Thursday (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


Addressing Netanyahu's contribution to Trump's decision on Iran, Lapid said: "Netanyahu's associates led an attack against me. I opposed and I still oppose the nuclear agreement. I'm part of the Israeli effort to lead to a change or cancel the agreement. The agreement can't be left the way it is. There is no disagreement between me and the government over this issue. Cancelling the agreement is not the strategy; it's a tool in a much wider battle.


"The prime minister was wrong to address Congress behind President Obama's back. It created a serious rift with the Democratic Party which hasn't been amended since then. In fact, it has only gotten worse. There may have been a nuclear agreement we could have lived with.


"I am also saying that the prime minister was to expose sensitive information on television. It made the enemy wake up. If that intelligence information would have been presented in a closed forum, it would have had a much bigger impact. None of the relevant players changed their mind following Netanyahu's show."


Avi Gabbay (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Avi Gabbay (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


Labor leader Avi Gabbay congratulated the IDF on its overnight operation in Syria. "The defense establishment's perception that the Iranians should be prevented from creating another front against us is correct and accurate and requires strikes like the ones we saw last night, and the same applies to the southern front.


"Our top commitment is to ensure the long-term existence of the State of Israel and its security. Unfortunately, the Netanyahu government is caught in a conception that the conflict can be managed with the Palestinians forever and that this conflict has nothing to do with the conflict with Iran. I think that's a mistake. We must create a political horizon to lower the intensity of the conflict and increase regional stability."


Ron Ben-Yishai, Alexandra Lukash, Itamar Eichner and Inbar Tvizer contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 05.10.18, 13:47
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