JERUSALEM, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday warned that the country's north is unprepared for war, urging a large amount of budget allocated to fortify the region.
"The better (preparedness) is in the south, in the area around the Gaza Strip; the worst situation is in the north," said Lieberman during an on-stage interview in a conference in Jerusalem to mark 70 years of the statehood of Israel.
Israel considers Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based militia backed by Iran, to be a major threat. According to Israeli estimates, the group possesses at least 100,000 missiles, rockets, and mortar shells.
Israel also fears that Iran would establish a permanent presence in Syria, Israel's northern neighbor, where its forces are fighting along President Bashar al-Assad's army.
Lieberman said that in order to sufficiently protect the north, where accommodates about a quarter of the Israeli population, the government should invest at least an annual of one billion shekels (287 million U.S. dollars) in the next five years.
The hawkish minister also warned Iran that Israel will "not allow" it to obtain nuclear weapons or a military foothold in Syria. "We are not just saying it, we mean what we say," he said.