The Israeli minister says that his country has carried out a series of strikes against Iran and Hezbollah in Syria.
Rabat – Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, has boasted that Israel is the only country that “has been killing Iranians,” after escalating tensions between the Western powers and Iran in the Gulf.
“Israel is the only country in the world that has been killing Iranians for two years,” Hanegbi said on Sunday, July 22 in an interview with the Israeli radio station Kan Bet.
“We strike the Iranians hundreds of times in Syria. Sometimes we acknowledge it and sometimes foreign reports reveal it,” he added.
The country has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah military targets.
Israel has vowed to impede Iran, the country’s main enemy, from entrenching itself militarily in the area.
Hanegbi accused Iran of seeking to create “chaos” and “harm freedom of navigation.”
In response, Iran’s state-run news outlet Press TV tweeted: “This is how Israelis are freely and proudly talking about killing Iranians! Just imagine what would happen if it was the other way around!”
When the minister was asked if he feared that Israel would not receive the backing of the United States in case of a conflict with Iran, Hanegbi suggested that Tehran would avoid such a confrontation.
“[Iranians] are very restrained in their responses and it’s not because they don’t have abilities, but because they understand that Israel means business,” Hanegbi said.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke along the same lines last week during an interaction with the cadets of the National Security College.
“At the moment, the only army in the world to fight Iran is the Israeli army,” Netanyahu said.
In June 2019, the Israeli Prime Minister had warned that Israeli fighter jets can reach out any region in the Middle East, including Iran.
“Israel has acted hundreds of times to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, while it actively and openly calls and works for [Israel’s] destruction,” Netanyahu said in June 2019.
The Israeli minister’s comment amid Gulf tensions
Tzachi Hanegbi’s remarks followed the seizure of a British-flagged tanker by Iran on Friday, July 19 in the Strait of Hormuz, rising tensions between London and Tehran.
After the incident, Britain told the United Nations Security Council that, while it doesn’t want a confrontation with Iran, it considers the Islamic Republic’s actions in Omani territorial waters “unacceptable” and “highly escalatory.”
“International law requires that the right of transit passage shall not be impeded, and therefore the Iranian action constitutes illegal interference,” the UK said in a letter seen by CNN.
Earlier this month, Britain seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar after speculations that Iran was smuggling oil to Syria, defying the austere sanctions imposed by the United Nations.
The United Kingdom-Iran spat has intensified the ongoing tensions in the Gulf unleashed by the US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a landmark nuclear deal signed with Tehran in 2015.
The UK has worked to safeguard the landmark nuclear agreement, while appeasing Washington, a balancing act that has become increasingly difficult as Iran raises the stakes in the Gulf.
On Friday, July 19 the Pentagon declared the deployment of around 500 US military personnel to Saudi Arabia as “an additional deterrent” in the face of “emergent, credible threats” in the volatile region.