“Lebanon is on the verge of collapse, like every country that Iran takes over,” Bennett warned.
https://www.jpost.com-By LAHAV HARKOV
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen speaking at the Knesset, on July 5, 2021.Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen speaking at the Knesset, on July 5, 2021.(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel is monitoring the crisis in Lebanon to ensure it does not spill over the border, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday.
“Lebanon is on the verge of collapse, like every country that Iran takes over,” Bennett said at the opening of Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “The citizens of Lebanon are paying a heavy price for the Iranian takeover of the country.”
Israel is “watching the situation closely… and we will continue to be on alert,” Bennett added.
Bennett’s remarks came after the IDF and the police prevented an attempt to smuggle weapons to the tune of millions of shekels from Lebanon into Israel on Friday, which the prime minister said was “one of many examples.”
Police and the IDF stopped the smuggling efforts at the cross-border village of Ghajar, apprehending suspects who were found to have 43 pistols in their possession. They are investigating the incident, including the possibility of Hezbollah involvement.
The IDF and the police have stopped at least five major drugs and weapons smuggling attempts from Lebanon this year. Last week, the IDF said top Hezbollah official Hajj Khalil Harb is operating a drugs and weapons smuggling ring across the Lebanon-Israel border.
Also last week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz sent the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) a proposal for Israel to send humanitarian aid to the Lebanese people amid the country’s worsening economic and humanitarian crisis.
UNICEF reported that 77% of Lebanese households are unable to buy food, essential drugs have run out and electricity and gas shortages have become commonplace. The World Bank has called it one of the world’s worst financial crises since the 1850s.
“As an Israeli, as a Jew and as a human being, my heart aches seeing the images of people going hungry on the streets of Lebanon,” Gantz tweeted last week. “Israel has offered assistance to Lebanon in the past, and even today we are ready to act and to encourage other countries to extend a helping hand to Lebanon so that it will once again flourish and emerge from its state of crisis.”
Lebanon is expected to refuse the help, as it did last year, after an explosion in Beirut killed dozens and Israel offered humanitarian and medical aid.
Anna Ahronheim and Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.