image Photo: Flash90, Reuters

Gantz: Hezbollah endangers Lebanese citizens

Israel’s Defense Minister issued the charges as he signed an administrative seizure order against 3 Lebanese companies for allegedly supplying raw materials to the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group for its precision-guided missile project.

By Erin Viner

“Instead of helping and rehabilitating the citizens of LebanonHezbollah continues to endanger the citizens of Lebanon and the entire country, and sow chaos,” declared Defense Minister Benny Gantz, as he signed the seizure orders against the Toufali, Moubayed and Barakat companies.

According to a statement TV7 obtained from the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMoD), all 3 of the firms “maintain trade relations on an ongoing basis” with the internationally-recognized terrorist organization, that provide “machinery, oils and ventilation systems that are required for Hezbollah‘s production line and the precision project in particular.”

The order comes as part of the IMoD campaign to ratchet up economic pressure on Hezbollah missile development in a joint operation by Israel Military Intelligence and the National Bureau for Counter Terror financing of Israel (NBCTF) at the Ministry of Defense.

This is the second time Israel’s Defense Establishment has taken such steps, following a similar seizure order last August against another Lebanese firm.

“The Defense Minister’s seizure orders will allow the companies to be blacklisted in the world’s financial systems and will make it very difficult for them to continue operating,” said the statement.

“We will continue to reach out to the Lebanese people and offer humanitarian aid,” stressed Defense Minister Benny Gantz, while also taking ‘resolute action against the introduction of advanced weapons that will endanger citizens in “the heart” of the neighboring state.’

Israel’s top defense official also emphasized that “Hezbollah, with Iran’s support, is undermining the ability to stabilize Lebanon.

Lebanon  is struggling to cope with what the World Bank has called one of the worst economic collapses in modern history, that erupted in 2019 due to colossal state debt amid allegations of deep-rooted political corruption.

Last week, Minister Gantz revealed during an address to the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Avivl that Israel has made repeated overtures to assist Lebanon as it confronts rising security challenges.

“It is important to clarify: the citizens of Lebanon are not our enemies, therefore I offered this year alone assistance to Lebanon on 4 occasions, including this past week in an offer relayed to the commander of UNIFIL” (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon peacekeepers), he said, specifying that Israel “seek sto help the Lebanese Armed Forces that are suffering of elemental logistical necessities following the desertion of 5,000 soldiers amid Hezbollah’s recent surge in strength due to direct support from Iran.”

He then reiterated that Israel “will not permit Iran’s Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon to bolster itself amid ongoing chaos in the country,” and that the Beirut government bears ultimate “responsibility for any harm or new threat against the citizens of Israel.”