Prime Minister Yair Lapid told French President Emmanuel Macron: “Israel is doing its utmost to prevent Iran attaining a nuclear capability,” when they talked on Monday, Aug. 22. Lapid said that the new nuclear accord text submitted to Iran contained new elements left out of the original deal which would release a flood of capital for Iran to invest in its military and terror machine. According to Israel’s estimate, Tehran would gain from the new deal a bonanza of $200 m per day.
While Lapid implied by “utmost” the possible resort to military action, Israel is not alone in preparing for an armed conflict.
DEBKAfile’s military sources reveal that in the last few days, Tehran instructed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese terrorist Hizballah, to gear up for a fresh round of fighting with Israel with the object of derailing any possible resolution of the maritime dispute between Lebanon and Israel in the talks led by US envoy, Amos Hochstein. Above all, says Iran, the Lebanese government must be stopped from making any concessions to Israel for a deal, even at the cost of armed conflict.
Iran sees four benefits in stirring up a fresh Middle East war.
- The Israeli Defense Forces will be tied up by the fighting in Lebanon – too much so to be free to launch an offensive on Iran’s nuclear facilities. In other words, Hizballah would act as Tehran’s hired mercenary for pre-empting an Israell strike against Iran.
- For Tehran, Israel’s military feats in Operation Sunrise against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, were not the last word. Jihad is on standby to go into action against Israel that would be timed to coincide with the Hizballah offensive.
- Iran is burning to avenge the air strike Israel conducted on Aug. 7 that destroyed its key Yemen military base at Al Hafa on the Naqam Mountain, west of the capital Sanaa.
- Iran calculates that Israel lacks the military resources for defending all its oil and gas platforms in the eastern Mediterranean. This perceived vulnerability is seen as a chance to inflict serious pain on Israel, economically as well as militarily.
The latest directives received from Tehran led Nasrallah to declare on Friday: “The issue of maritime borders, the Karish field, oil and gas, and Lebanese rights have nothing to do with the nuclear agreement.” He went on to say: “In the event that Lebanon does not obtain its rights, which the Lebanese state demands, we are going to escalate, whether the nuclear agreement is signed or not. The eyes in Lebanon should be on Karish and the Lebanese border.”
In light of these statements, Israel forces are on high alert on the northern border in readiness for any Hizballah aggression. Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Iran’s Lebanese proxy on Monday that any attack on Israel’s gas field “could trigger a reaction leading to several days of fighting and to a military campaign,” although “that’s not what we want,” he said.