TEL AVIV – Israel is deeply concerned over Iran’s increasing strength in Syria, fearing an Iranian terror front on Israel’s northern border, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told his Italian counterpart, Roberta Pinotti, on Monday.
Israel is “very concerned by the strengthening of Iran in Syria, which will lead to a strengthening of the Shi’ite axis in a negative manner,” Ya’alon said at a meeting in his Tel Aviv office. He continued:
This could encourage Iran to continue to activate a terrorism front against us from the Golan Heights. Iran will also continue to invest the money it will receive from sanctions relief in the development and acquisition of new weapons systems, and the building and fortification of terrorist proxies in the Middle East, Europe, and America to spread terrorism around the world.
According to the Defense Minister, Iran has also “not given up on its attempts to transfer weapons to the Gaza Strip through various means, and we witness these attempts all the time.”
Although Israel has embraced the Syrian ceasefire, Ya’alon said the conflict, which has led to 500,000 casualties and ten million refugees, is not over.
Pinotti told Ya’alon that while Israel has been dealing with the reality of having Syria as its neighbor for a long time, today Israel and Italy are experiencing the same troubles. She added that now Europe understands what has been happening in the region.
Ya’alon also told Pinotti that defense relations between Israel and Italy are only getting stronger, pointing to the IAF’s use of Italy’s M346 training plane.
Last month, Italy pledged three million euros in humanitarian aid to war-torn Syria, to be distributed by the U.N. World Food Program.