Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) on Thursday held a joint press conference together with Cypriot Minister of Defense Charalambos Petrides.
"It is very meaningful to host a true friend of Israel, after the difficult days we have endured as a nation," Gantz began. "The great bond between Israel and Cyprus is based on shared values and interests, and a common vision for a peaceful region."
"This translates to many areas of defense cooperation, including strategic dialogue, industrial projects and military activities.
From personal meetings between us, to the excellent military exercise held in Cyprus in June, and the working groups held by our policy leaders – defense cooperation strengthens the readiness of each country to face developing challenges."
Gantz added, "We also value the trilateral framework with Greece – it is an asset to the force build-up of the individual countries, as well as to wider regional security."
"In our meetings today, we discussed common challenges and reflected on the implications of Operation Breaking Dawn.
"This operation was launched in response to an immediate threat on our southern communities, posed by Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Over 1000 rockets were launched by Islamic Jihad from within population centers, toward Israeli kindergartens, schools, communities.
"Their disregard for human life was tragic, as multiple failed rocket launches led to the deaths of innocent Palestinian children in Gaza.
"While the world watched 'another escalation between Israel and Gaza,' I stopped to emphasize: The Iranian Ayatollahs are involved in this front. Islamic Jihad in Gaza is a violent Iranian proxy. Their leadership visits Iran and meets Iranian leaders frequently. Islamic Jihad has an open tab in Iran.
Iran provides Islamic Jihad in Gaza with tens of millions of dollars per year.
"Iran, via the IRGC, transfers know-how and attempts to smuggle materials to Gaza, which are then used to build weapons aimed at civilians."
Concluding his remarks, Gantz emphasized, "While quiet in the area was restored, we cannot rest.
On the operational level – the State of Israel will maintain its freedom of action in all arenas. As I have said in the past, our eyes and targets focus on anyone who threatens the security of our citizens – from Khan Yunis to Tehran."
"On the strategic level, Israel will continue to work with our partners in facing Iranian aggression, which harms security and stability everywhere - from the Israel-Gaza border, to the Mediterranean Sea, to the Gulf and beyond."
"In such challenging times, partnerships are crucial. Minister, I am pleased that our establishments have been working closely, and that our industrial cooperation has become a pillar not only of our bilateral relations, but also to regional security and stability. Once again, thank you my friend, for your important visit and commitment to the Israel-Cyprus bond."