On Monday, Israel accused Iran of constructing an airfield in southern Lebanon that will be used as a jumping-off point for assaults against Israelis across the border, potentially escalating the already tense situation between the two regional rivals.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant asserted Iran is constructing a runway that cuts through forested mountains within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of Israel’s northern border while speaking at a prominent security conference organized by Reichman University close to Tel Aviv.
Gallant revealed images from satellites that he said indicated the location where the flags of Lebanon’s violent Hezbollah organization and Iran’s national flag could be seen.
Gallant asserted that Iran “is planning to act against the citizens of Israel,” utilizing the runway as a base.
An inquiry for comment was not immediately answered by the Iranian representation to the UN. Hezbollah’s spokesperson refuses to respond to Israel’s charges.
The date when the satellite images were taken was not specified by the defense minister.
He described a position close to the steep Lebanese city of Jezzin, which is on the Israeli side of the border with the town of Metulla.
Earlier this year, Hezbollah invited the media to attend a military drill in a southern Lebanon town nearby.
The Associated Press obtained satellite photographs from Planet Labs PBC on July 28 showing construction on a 1.2 km (3,937 ft) runway and hangars being built on a tarmac to the runway’s east. In January’s satellite pictures, the runway was mostly unpaved.
Israel has claimed in recent years that it shot down drones connected to Hezbollah or Iran that were fired from Syria and Lebanon.
In 2006, Israel and Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that governs a large portion of southern Lebanon, engaged in combat.
Since then, the border has remained tense but mostly quiet as both sides avoid another significant conflict.