In an address to the Institute for Policy and Strategy Herzliya Conference on Tuesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned that Iran poses a regional threat due to its drone technology.
“One of the key tools is UAVs[unmanned aerial vehicles] and precision weapons, which can reach strategic targets within thousands of kilometers, and thus this capability is already endangering Sunni countries, international troops in the Middle East and also countries in Europe and Africa,” the defense minister said.
Gantz related that in February 2018, Iran launched a Shahed 141 drone, believed to be a copy of a US stealth drone that was downed in Iran in 2011, took off from the T-4 airbase in Syria carrying explosives. The drone was shot down by an Apache attack helicopter near Bet Shean in the northern Jordan Valley. Though the IDF had stated at the time that the drone was on its way to carry out an attack, Gantz revealed that its true purpose was to deliver the explosives to terrorists inside Israel.
“Iran is not only using unmanned aerial vehicles to attack but to also transfer weapons to its proxies,” Gantz warned.
Gantz also said that Iran has launched drone attacks against maritime targets from bases in Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman and Qeshm Island in the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran also helps others with their drone technology. The Houthi rebels in Yemen have used Iranian drones to attack civilian targets in Saudi Arabia.
“Iran aspires to become a regional hegemon and then a global one, exporting its radical ideology in which human rights are destroyed, members of the LGBTQ+ community are hung, women are oppressed and resources are redirected to the regime,” Gantz said.
“Their methodology is to take over unstable countries like Yemen, which ranks last in the ‘fragile countries’ index, similarly to Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Their plan is clear – ‘first we take Damascus, then we take Berlin.”
“Iranian terrorism is being promoted with the approval of its spiritual leader Ali Khamenei and under the regime’s top directive,” Gantz said. He added Iran is also trafficking oil and weapons to Venezuela. Iran has been sending members of its Quds Force (elite branch of Revolutionary Guard Corps) to South America for several years and is expected to sign a cooperation accord with Caracas in the near future. The Iranian regime has also been working to increase its influence in Afghanistan.
Gantz suggested that a military option to cope with the Iranian threat is a viable, though less preferable, option.
“There is no doubt that a diplomatic solution is preferable, but alongside it, there must also be the use of force on the table, since it is the continuation of diplomacy by other means,” Gantz said. “Sometimes the use and demonstration of force can prevent the need for an even stronger use of force.”