Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz has claimed that his country repeatedly offered emergency assistance to the Lebanese military, a long-time enemy with which Israel is still officially at war.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies, Gantz said that Israel has submitted offers four times over the past year to help stabilize the Lebanese armed forces amid an economic crisis in Beirut.
Jerusalem’s most recent offer was made a week ago, according to the defense minister.
Gantz disclosed that the Israel Defense Forces offered to provide assistance “in a targeted manner” to the Lebanese army, which is experiencing a shortage of basic supplies and has lost more than 5,000 soldiers due to desertion.
“Lebanon has unfortunately become an island of instability, and the citizens of Lebanon are not our enemies,” Gantz said, as quoted by The Times of Israel. “Therefore, I offered four times this year to assist Lebanon, including last week in an application sent to the UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon) commander.”
Since Israel and Lebanon have no diplomatic relations, all communications go through third parties, including UNIFIL, which serves as the peacekeeping mission that patrols the disputed border.
‘Unlikely to Agree’
Lebanon has suffered a crippling economic, political, and energy crisis for more than two years.
Experiencing one of the world’s worst economic crises, Lebanon has a massive public deficit and plummeting currency, leaving citizens to struggle for basic necessities.
Despite the dire situation, it is highly unlikely that the Middle Eastern country will agree to cooperate with Israel and its defense forces.
In 2021, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that his government “will deal with anyone” except Israel for the sake of the country’s interest.