Israeli politicians angered by defence minister's offer to aid Lebanese military

Israeli politicians angered by defence minister's offer to aid Lebanese military
An offer made by Israel's defence minister to help the Lebanese military as Lebanon's economic crisis continues has outraged Israeli politicians.
2 min read
03 February, 2022
The Lebanese military, like most of the country's institutions, has been hit hard by the financial crisis [Getty- archive]

An offer made by Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz to provide the Lebanese army with aid in light of Lebanon’s financial crisis has sparked outrage in Israel.

Gantz’s offer came in a recorded speech broadcast on Wednesday to the Institute for National Security Studies, Israel's Channel 12 reported.

Officials opposed the offer, according to Channel 12, due to the Lebanese army’s "strong relationship" with Hezbollah, an Iran-backed paramilitary group that has fought multiple wars with Israel. They were also displeased with the timing of Gantz's comments. 

US ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides applauded Gantz on Twitter on Thursday, contradicting earlier reports that said the defence minister's offer had "angered" Washington.

The US is the Lebanese military's number one provider of aid. Last week, it said it would reroute $67 million in military aid to help soldiers with livelihood support, to prevent desertions.

Lebanon and Israel are officially enemy states and any communication with Israelis is forbidden under Lebanese law. 

Gantz, also Israel’s deputy prime minister, revealed that the offer he made to the Lebanese army last week was passed on via the UN’s peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL.

It includes providing specific assistance to the Lebanese military in the wake of an unprecedented financial, economic and monetary crisis that Lebanon has suffered for two years.

Gantz said that Israel offered help four times.

He also said that Iran took advantage of the crisis in Lebanon by further strengthening its ally Hezbollah, which Israel considers to be a major threat.

Both sides fought a devastating war in 2006, and have since exchanged cross-border fire on multiple occasions.