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PM Netanyahu distances Israel from Gen. Soleimani killing

Israeli PM Netanyahu said that whilst Israel supports U.S.' right to self defense, it was not involved in Iranian Commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani's killing. The head of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Southern Command, Major Gen. Herzi Halevi also distanced Israel from the conflict.

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Israel should not be dragged into the conflict between the U.S. and Iran, local media quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying Monday.

While chairing a security cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said the killing of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was carried out by the U.S., stressing his country was “not involved.”

Iran promised to take revenge for the killing of Soleimani and announced Sunday that it would stop complying with the 2015 nuclear deal

Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Forces, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, vice president of the Hashd al-Shaabi group, or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), were assassinated in a U.S. drone strike Friday outside Baghdad International Airport.

Netanyahu also urged his ministers to reiterate Israel’s support for America’s right to defend itself when speaking to the media.

Israel has been attempting to distance itself from the conflict after fears of retaliation from Iran or its proxy group, Hezbollah, near its borders. PM Netanyahu has therefore demanded that Israel not be dragged into the conflict.

During the meeting, top Israeli intelligence officials reassured the ministers that the likelihood of a retaliatory attack by Iran against Israel was low, since “Israel stayed at a distance from the incident,” according to Channel 13.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Southern Command head, Major General Herzi Halevi said, “We must look at the assassination as part of a fight between Iran and the United States over Iraq’s character. That is the story, we aren’t the main story here — and it’s good that it happened far away”, in an attempt to distance Israel from the issue.

Read more: Pentagon clarifies ‘poorly worded’ US withdrawal plan sent by ‘mistake’

Soleimani’s slaying marked a dramatic escalation in tensions between the U.S. and Iran, which have often been at a fever pitch since President Donald Trump chose in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw Washington from nuclear pact world power struck with Tehran.

Iran promised to take revenge for the killing of Soleimani and announced Sunday that it would stop complying with the 2015 nuclear deal. Trump has since threatened to target cultural sites in Iran.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk. 

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