Lieberman: Israel 'Doing What Needs to Be Done' About Iran's Underground Arms Plants in Lebanon

Defense minister also calls police raid on former PM Olmert’s publisher in search of memoir 'excessive and petty,' and an act from a different era

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman at Elbit, July 2, 2017
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Israel is fully aware of Hezbollah’s construction of underground weapons plants in Lebanon and is "doing what needs to be done," Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a briefing with military correspondents on Sunday.

Lieberman called the factories, which are being built with Iranian know-how, a significant event that Israel can under no circumstances ignore.

The defense minister said he believed Israel’s military superiority over Hezbollah had actually widened since the Second Lebanon War in 2006. “They have not closed the gap, the gap has only grown,” he noted. But in what appeared to be a swipe at predecessor Moshe Ya’alon, Lieberman added, “The factories won’t rust and the missiles won’t rust.”

Lieberman also addressed former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s release from prison on Sunday morning. He said accusations that Olmert had disclosed classified information in his memoir were “excessive and petty.” Lieberman noted that anything concerning military information secrecy was handled by the IDF’s military censor, Brig. Gen. Ariella Ben Avraham, who was seated next to him during the press briefing.

“The whole raid on the publisher – it’s as if it was taken from a different era and a different country,” said Lieberman, referring to the police raid on Yedioth Ahronoth publishing house last month. “I don’t remember a precedent in which the police raided a publisher. This is an affair that is worth erasing from the national memory as soon as possible,” he added.

When asked about the aid Israel provides to Syrians because of the civil war there, Lieberman said, “We have helped and are helping. People there have nothing to eat. More than 3,000 people received medical treatment [in Israel], and all of them are local villagers.”

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Israel not only provides humanitarian aid to the villages near the border, but also funds rebel groups there every month.

As for whether it is better for Israel if Syrian President Bashar Assad or Syrian rebels control the border with Israel, he said they were both terrible options: “They are no Peace Now – all of them are versions of Al-Qaida.”

Israel is trying to preserve its links with the villagers along the border, who have been living there for generations, said Lieberman. “They understand that the best neighbor for them is Israel, and I am not hiding it – we helped and are helping there,” he added.