JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel is advancing military plans to confront Iran’s nuclear program and oppose the Islamic Republic’s growing influence in the region.
"The Iranians today are closer to creating fissile material for nuclear weapons than they ever were in the past," an Israeli security official told journalists during a briefing attended by CBN News.
“In light of Iranian progress of their nuclear program, we are preparing for all options and scenarios, including military capabilities."
Israel’s military is establishing new headquarters to deal exclusively with Iran, which is entrenching itself in unstable countries in the region and using “subversion, terrorist financing and arms exports” to reshape the Middle East, the official warned.
Israel sees a power struggle developing in the region – one that pits Shi’ite Iran and its proxies in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon against moderate countries who are threatened by Tehran’s actions.
Israel wants to leverage the new relationships it has made with its Arab neighbors through the Abraham Accords, and its close ties with Egypt, Jordan, Greece and Cyprus to build a counterforce against Iran in the region.
"The historic change in relations with Arab countries will also include security components," the security official said. "Security cooperation has improved and intensified in recent months. This is an opportunity for any country that wants to be involved in the region to deal with common threats.”
Israel is particularly concerned about Iran's proxies in Lebanon and Syria.
"Iran and the terrorist organization Hezbollah continue to establish themselves in Syria and threaten Israel. Israel will continue its campaign in this gray area and will continue for as long as it takes in order to protect the citizens of Israel," the official said.
For years, Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian-linked militias in Syria. However, Israeli officials rarely comment on reports of these airstrikes.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah is gaining more influence in Lebanon as the country battles political and economic crises.
"The source of instability in Lebanon is the terrorist organization Hezbollah that exploits the state's resources for Iranian interests," the security official said. "It is of vital importance to intensify international pressure to promote political and economic reforms, as a condition for infrastructural and economic assistance in order to stabilize the country.”
Israel does not want to see a war with Hezbollah and expects to see about 2,000 rockets per day in a conflict with the terror group, Uri Gordin, chief of the army’s Home Front Command, told AFP.
That's five times higher than the daily amount Israel faced during its 11-day war in May with Hamas.
While Israel is prepared to use military force, it would rather rely on diplomacy and international effort to deter Tehran.
Israel opposed the agreement Iran signed with world powers in 2015 to curb its nuclear program but would accommodate a new deal if it ensured Iran never obtains nuclear weapons.
The Biden administration's efforts to renegotiate the 2015 deal after former US President Donald Trump abandoned it in 2018 have so far failed. Washington is working closely with Israel and its other allies to increase pressure on Iran to return to the negotiating table.
The Biden administration hinted last week that the US could consider using force if diplomacy fails.
“Time is running short,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week. “We are prepared to turn to other options if Iran doesn’t change course, and these consultations with our allies and partners are part of it. We will look at every option to deal with the challenge posed by Iran.”