In his first sit-down interview with an American news outlet, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Friday that Israel has updated its target list and is preparing to strike Iranian nuclear sites if the world does not act to stop Iran’s nuclear development.
Speaking with Fox News reporter Trey Yingst, Gantz said Israel has found numerous targets in Iran that would slow its nuclear development if attacked.
“If the world stops them before, it’s very much good,” Gantz said. “But if not, we must stand independently and we must defend ourselves by ourselves.”
Yingst tweeted a segment of their interview, in which Gantz said Israel has identified thousands of rocket sites targets along the Israeli border with Lebanon, including many that are in civilian areas.
“EXCLUSIVE: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz shows Fox News a classified target map, revealing Hezbollah missiles amid civilian infrastructure,” Yingst tweeted.
“This is a target map. Each one of them has been checked legally, operationally, intelligence-wise and we are ready to fight,” Gantz said, showing Yingst a map of potential targets in Lebanon.
Gantz’s comments come as Iran has increasingly breached the terms of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In January, Iran said it had enriched 17 kilograms of uranium to 20 percent purity, up from 3.67 percent permitted under the deal.
Gantz’s comments come amid uncertainty about the fate of the Iran nuclear deal and whether the U.S. will negotiate a return to the agreement. Israel has previously threatened to attack Iran if the U.S. rejoins the deal or even eases sanctions on the country.
During the interview, Gantz also said Israel anticipates attacks by Iran through proxies in Syria and Lebanon. Gantz said the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has hundreds of thousands of rockets.
In its annual intelligence briefing, the Israel Defense Forces saidthey are preparing for several days of fighting with Hezbollah. Local media reported the IDF could hit 3,000 Lebanese targets would be hit every day and has an aim to kill 300 Hezbollah fighters every 24 hours.
Gantz said Israel could also be expected to continue strikes against Iran-backed groups in Syria, which he said are helping move weapons into Lebanon.
Since the start of 2020, Israel has struck more than 500 targets in Syria that Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said are linked to Iran-linked groups and activity.
Last week, President Joe Biden launched his own airstrike in Syria targeting Iran-linked militia groups — the first strike of his presidency. The U.S. strike landed on the Syrian side of the Iraq-Syria border and targeted Iran-backed groups suspected of firing rockets at U.S. personnel in Iraq days earlier.