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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Threats to Israel: Iranian Regional Aggression

In Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Gaza, Iranian forces and terrorist proxies are attempting to surround Israel with increasingly advanced weaponry, preparing for the next large-scale conflict against the Jewish state.

Israel has already been forced to act to prevent highly sophisticated weaponry from reaching terrorist adversaries along its borders.

The United States must continue to support Israel’s right to self-defense and ensure the Jewish state has the means to protect itself. Additionally, the U.S. must continue to push back against Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region, including by increasing the economic pressure on Tehran to limit the resources available to the regime to continue its aggression.

Iran is trying to entrench itself across the Middle East and provide advanced weapons to its terrorist proxies to attack Israel. To do this, Iran is working to permanently consolidate a land bridge linking Iran—through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon—to Israel’s borders. Today, it is already using the land bridge to shuttle military equipment and terrorists to Israel’s northern border.

Lebanon:

Hezbollah is a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction. It receives around $800 million annually from Iran. It already possesses advanced weapons designed to inflict significant damage across Israel, and Iran is dramatically enhancing Hezbollah’s capabilities. Hezbollah entrenches its fighters and weapons in civilian areas in Lebanon, protecting its terrorist infrastructure at the risk of countless Lebanese lives. 

  • Political and Military Entrenchment: With Iran’s help, Hezbollah has become the most important political player in Lebanon with a military arsenal stronger than many sovereign states.

  • Precision-Guided Munitions: Hezbollah is building precision-guided munitions (PGMs) factories in Lebanon to produce new missiles and add precision-guidance systems to its existing stockpiles. Iran is providing the necessary technology to Hezbollah via its land bridge.

  • Promise of More Attacks: In August 2019, Hezbollah launched multiple anti-tank guided missiles at Israel, damaging an Israeli military base and destroying an Israeli military vehicle. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has promised further attacks, and he has openly threatened to strike critical Israeli infrastructure in the future.

  • Click here for more on Iran's aggression in Lebanon.

Gaza Strip:

Hamas is an Iranian-backed Palestinian terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip and openly seeks the destruction of Israel. Hamas diverts international assistance from the people of Gaza to build its terrorist infrastructure—prioritizing destroying Israel over providing for the basic needs of its own people. Hamas, together with groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), is holding Gaza’s Palestinians hostage—using them as human shields and impeding economic development in the Strip.

  • Exploiting and Destabilizing: Iran views Hamas as a proxy and seeks to use the terrorist organization to achieve its ultimate goal of destroying Israel.

  • Targeting Citizens: Iran provides Hamas much-needed financial, military and moral support to launch thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel. Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza have launched roughly 15,000 rockets and mortars at Israel since 2005. The group currently maintains an arsenal of roughly 10,000 rockets, some capable of striking major Israeli population centers.

  • Expanding Reach: Since taking over the Gaza Strip in a violent coup, Hamas has also attempted to overthrow the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank.

  • Click here for more on Iran's aggression in the Gaza Strip.

Syria:

Since it entered the Syrian Civil War, Iran has laid the foundation for a long-term presence in Syria. Tehran has infiltrated Damascus’ military, economy and civil society in an effort to create a permanent dependence on Iran. Syria is a key component of Iran’s land bridge to Hezbollah in Lebanon and to Israel’s northern border in the Golan Heights.

  • A Third Front: Tehran is attempting to entrench a covert force and military infrastructure along Israel’s border with Syria. Iran hopes to convert this theater into a third front to complement Hezbollah’s positions in southern Lebanon and Hamas’ in Gaza.

  • Long-Term Build Up: Iran already has significant military infrastructure in Syria, including approximately 40 military bases, airfields, advanced air defense systems, and production and storage facilities.

  • Launching Point of Aggression: Iran has leveraged its position in Syria to directly attack Israel at least five times in the past 18 months.

  • Click here for more on Iran's aggression in Syria.

Iraq:

Directly and through proxies, Iran has established itself as a dominant political and military player in Iraq. Tehran has worked for years to permeate a wide array of institutions in Iraq, including political, security, economic and religious institutions. Iranian forces and proxies directly threaten Americans and Israelis and are a key stumbling block to internal Iraqi political reconciliation.

  • Infiltration of Iraq: Tehran is creating well-financed and well-armed Shia proxies in Iraq—called Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs)—which operate autonomously from the Iraqi military. Iran’s goal is to create a state-within-a-state, more powerful than Iraq’s government and its armed forces, similar to what it has done with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

  • Missile Arsenal: Over the past year, Iran has shipped its Iraqi militias dozens of short- and medium-range guided ballistic missiles that are highly accurate and are capable of reaching all of Israel.

  • Threatening American Interests: Iran’s support for Shia militias in Iraq contributed to the deaths of hundreds of U.S. military personnel and now serves as a key stumbling block to internal Iraqi political reconciliation.

  • Click here for more on Iran's aggression in Iraq.