Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Tuesday that if he had to choose between the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and Iran on the country’s borders, he would “choose ISIS” every time.
In comments made at the Institute for National Security Studies’ (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv, Yaalon said that if the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were to fall, he would prefer the militant group to control territory on Israel’s northern border rather than an Iranian proxy such as the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
He reasoned that Iran has superior capabilities to the radical Islamist group, who are being pegged back by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria.
“In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State, I choose the Islamic State. They don’t have the capabilities that Iran has,” he said. “Our greatest enemy is the Iranian regime that has declared war on us. Iran tried to open a terror front against us on the Golan Heights.”
He continued that Iran has a “terror infrastructure in place in five continents,” listing Asia, Africa, Europe and both Americas.
ISIS is much weaker financially and militarily than Tehran and, with everyone against the militant group, they will fall, he said.
“We believe ISIS will be eventually defeated territorially after the blows it has been suffering, and in light of the attacks on its oil reserves,” he added.
Last year, Hezbollah operatives conducted a number of border attacks against Israeli targets while key Hezbollah commander Samir Kuntar was assassinated in a December air strike in the Syrian capital, Damascus, that the group blamed on Israel. The group receives funding and logistical support from the Iranian military.
Last week, international sanctions were lifted on Iran’s ailing economy after Tehran met all of the conditions as part of a landmark nuclear deal signed with world powers last July.