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Israel reportedly warns it may bomb Beirut airport if used for Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah

IDF launches a three-day military drill to increase readiness “for sudden events and various scenarios in the northern arena”

Illustrative - Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport in Lebanon (Photo: Shutterstock)

Israel reportedly warned Lebanon that it may bomb Beirut’s international airports should they come to serve as a transit point for clandestine Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah, the predominant Lebanon-based terrorist organization. 

Israel is watching for any efforts by Tehran to transfer game-changing weapons to the Shiite terrorist group or other Iranian-backed terror organizations threatening Israel’s borders. 

Last Thursday, Al Arabiya News reported that Iran’s Meraj Airlines has started flights between Tehran and Beirut, and Israel’s Channel 12 identified the move as a “new Iranian attempt to establish a weapons smuggling route via civilian airline flights to Beirut.”

Meraj Airlines is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the United States lists as a terrorist-sponsoring entity. Though a civilian airline company, Meraj Airlines has a history of shipping arms to Iran’s different terrorist proxies across the Middle East. The new flight path, therefore, has raised concerns that Iran is trying to use Meraj Airlines as a civilian cover to ship arms. 

Asharq Al-Awsat, a London-based Arabic newspaper, stated Israel reportedly warned the Lebanese government that it could strike Beirut’s international airport if it were to be used for Iran’s clandestine arms shipments. 

In recent years, the Israeli Air Force has conducted hundreds of military strikes on Iranian and Iran-affiliated targets across Syria. Iran’s ayatollah regime has tried for years to build a military front inside Syria against the Jewish state. 

Iran has also tried to smuggle weapons to its terrorist militias through civilian airports in Syria. In September, the IAF reportedly bombed Damascus Airport after Iran used it for shipping arms. Five Syrian soldiers were reportedly killed in the aerial strike. By contrast, since the Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006, Israel has largely refrained from bombing inside Lebanon. 

In May 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against entities connected to Iran’s Meraj and Mahan Airlines. 

At the time, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin explained the rationale behind the American sanctions, revealing that “the facilitators designated by the Treasury today have been procuring parts and providing services for the fleets of sanctioned Iranian airlines, including Mahan Air, Caspian Air, Meraj Air, and Pouya Air.”

“In so doing, they extend a lifeline to the IRGC-QF and enable the Iranian regime to transport weapons, fighters and money to its proxies, including Hezbollah, and to prop up the brutal Assad regime, ” Mnuchin said.

Hezbollah is widely considered the strongest player inside Lebanon. With significant Iranian assistance, Hezbollah developed into a significant military force more powerful than many national militaries, including the Lebanese army. Israel consequently views Hezbollah as its second most serious military threat after Iran. 

On Saturday, the Israeli Defense Forces launched a three-day military drill dubbed “Hot Winter,” to increase Israel's military readiness “for sudden events and various scenarios in the northern arena.” This is typically a reference for simulating a potential war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. 

The extensive military drill recruited 8,000 IDF soldiers and 5,000 reservists to take part. 

“During the exercise, forces will practice dealing with being deployed in a sudden manner, in the face of operational scenarios in the northern arena, with an emphasis on the readiness of the logistics array, and cooperation between the ground forces units,” the IDF announced in an official statement. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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