Israel Working 'All the Time' to Prevent War With Iran, But Preparing for Conflict: Official

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz recently said Israel was "working all the time to prevent war" with Iran by "carrying out operations, conveying messages, preventing [a military] build-up," the Associated Press reported. But the country is still preparing for the possibility of conflict with the regional rival and its proxy groups, Gantz said.

Gantz was speaking during a visit to a defense industry factory in the city of Shlomi, located near Lebanon's border, the AP reported. He said that if war does break out, Israel "will be prepared to execute operations that haven't been seen in the past, with means that weren't in our hands in the past, that will harm the heart of terror and its abilities."

Iran remains a regional rival of Israel after decades of diplomatic and military conflicts. Though the two countries were allies beginning in the 1950s, Iranian leaders who came into power after the 1979 Islamic revolution unseated the country's monarch, denounced Israel as an imperialist power and took an anti-Israel stance, Bloomberg reported.

Iran has supported groups that fight against Israel, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinian group Hamas. Additionally, Iran's potential to build a weapons arsenal amid stalled nuclear talks is a colossal concern for Israel.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Israel Preparing for Iran Conflict
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel was “working all the time to prevent war” with Iran by “carrying out operations, conveying messages, preventing [a military] build-up.” Gantz delivers a speech in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 29, 2019. Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi said Tuesday that the Israeli military was "speeding up the operational plans and readiness for dealing with Iran and the nuclear military threat."

Israel considers Iran an existential threat, and has warned that it would act with military force if needed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Last month Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that "if a terror regime is going to acquire a nuclear weapon, we must act."

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran is set to renew nuclear talks with world powers this month, after the 2015 accord to curb its nuclear program collapsed following the U.S.'s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018.

Addressing lawmakers at a meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Kohavi said the military "continued to act against our enemies in covert operations and missions around the Middle East" during the past year.

His remarks came following a string of reported Israeli airstrikes in Syria. Israel has staged hundreds of strikes on Iran-linked military targets in neighboring Syria in the past decade, but rarely acknowledges its operations. It has said that Iran's presence near its northern frontier is a red line, and that it targets arms shipments bound for Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Iran-linked facilities in Syria.

Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi
Israeli army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi said Tuesday that Israel was expediting plans and preparations ahead of possible conflict with Iran. Kochavi participates in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on June 21, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images