Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday accused Iran of planning attacks against the Jewish state and said everything possible would be done to prevent them.
The premier, who was indicted on corruption charges on Thursday and is seen to be battling for his political life, made his remarks on a visit to an army base near the border with conflict-ravaged Syria.
“Iran’s aggression in our region, and against us, continues,” Netanyahu said. He was speaking on the day US General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in the country to meet his Israeli counterpart Aviv Kohavi.
The previous day, Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defence system had intercepted four rockets fired from Syria, with the army blaming an “Iranian force”
The two generals discussed “operational questions and regional developments”, an army statement said.
Speaking on the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, Netanyahu said “we are taking all necessary actions to prevent Iran from entrenching here in our region.”
“This includes the activity necessary to thwart the transfer of lethal weaponry from Iran to Syria, whether by air or overland.
“We will also take action to thwart Iran’s effort to turn Iraq and Yemen into bases for launching rockets and missiles” at Israel, he added.
On Wednesday, in a rare confirmation of such operations, Israel said its warplanes carried out a “very intense” attack against Iranian forces and Syrian army targets in Syria.
Britain-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 23 people were killed in the strikes — 21 fighters and two civilians.
The previous day, Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defence system had intercepted four rockets fired from Syria, with the army blaming an “Iranian force”.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced Thursday he had charged Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, prompting speculation that the end of the premier’s decade-long tenure was nigh.
Security sources in Israel describe the current protest in Iran as the most serious since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. This, even though the precise criteria for comparison are not entirely clear, and even though the information coming out of Iran is only partial due to the authorities’ decision to shut down the Internet almost completely. It is reasonable to assume that the Israeli decision to respond more harshly in Syria – in the pre-dawn air force attack on Wednesday, more than 20 Iranian and Syrian targets were hit – took into account the assessment that the domestic troubles in Iran are opening a window of opportunity for Israeli action.
This is also an approach that could come back at Israel like a boomerang. Precisely from within the domestic pressure the Iranian regime is facing now, it is liable to conclude that a violent confrontation with Israel is beneficial. And the greatest danger is not lurking in Syria but rather in Lebanon – where Iran’s most effective asset is located: the huge rocket arsenal Hezbollah has accumulated.