Israeli military to create command to combat Iran threats

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s military will set up a special branch in its general staff dedicated to threats from Iran, it said Tuesday.

The military said it will appoint a major general to head the command, which is part of a broader restructuring in the general staff.

A statement by the military offered few details about the new command, saying the nature of the new branch’s work was “yet to be determined.” But the move highlights the importance Israel places on the threats it views coming from Iran.

Iran has forces based in Syria, Israel’s northern neighbor, and supports Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. In Gaza, it supplies Islamic Jihad with cash, weapons and training, and also supports Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules the coastal territory. Israel also accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons — a charge Iran denies.

Israel has repeatedly struck Iran-linked targets in Syria in recent years and has warned against any permanent Iranian presence on the frontier. But its battle against Iran has increasingly come out of the shadows, with Iranian and Israeli forces coming into direct confrontation.

In November, the Israeli military said fighter jets hit multiple targets belonging to Iran’s elite Quds force, including surface-to-air missiles, weapons warehouses and military bases.

Israel has also struck a number of Iranian military targets in Syria, including munition storage facilities, an intelligence site and a military training camp, in response to an Iranian missile attack a day earlier.

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