Israel’s Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told an influential Knesset committee on Monday that Iran was working to upgrade the military capabilities of the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.
Speaking to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, Katz said: “In recent days, while we face the known threat from Gaza, there is a direct Iranian intervention. Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas are involved in operative preparations to upgrade the threat to Israel from the direction of Gaza.”
The Islamic Republic was increasing its involvement in the Gaza Strip after Hamas was forced to leave Qatar, following pressure from Saudi Arabia, Katz told the committee, according to a report by the Jerusalem Post.
“This meeting is under the shadow of a four-letter word: I-R-A-N,” he minister told the committee.
“It’s amazing how everything has to do with Iran,” Katz continued. “Whether it’s their nuclear aspirations and the need to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons… the attempt to improve its military preparedness in Syria, training Shi’ite militias [or] actions improving Hezbollah missiles.”
“In a short time we will see ourselves fighting a much more challenging threat on the operative and military levels if we don’t change direction,” the Post quoted the minister as saying.
Referring in brief to the ongoing protest in Iran, Katz said that Israel would like to “see the repressive regime removed and replaced with a democracy. We don’t intervene, but we wish luck to the Iranian people in pursuit of freedom and democracy.”
After he made his comments, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed his government to avoid commenting on the protests in Iran.
“It’s not that they love Zion,” Katz said in irony, discussing the Iranian investment in money and manpower in several conflicts around the world. “It’s a question of whether resources should be used to support terror and aggression in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. All these developments require Israel to consider them and try to change the situation.”
Over the weekend, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that mortar shells fired at Israel from Gaza were made in Iran.