Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu checks out an F-35 jet.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Tehran should remember that Israel's air force can strike anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran and Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday after visiting a F-35 squadron at the Nevatim Air Force base.
“Iran has threatened recently to destroy Israel,” Netanyahu said in a video clip he posted, standing in front of an F-35 “Adir” plane. “It is worthwhile for them to remember that these plans can reach everywhere in the Middle East, including Iran and Syria.
Last week a senior Iranian parliamentarian, Mojtaba Zolnour, who is chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said that “if the US attack us, only half an hour will remain of Israel's lifespan.”
Netanyahu held a meeting at the base with Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Air Force Commander Maj.Gen. Amikam Norkin and the Air Force Commanders' Forum..
The Israeli Air Force currently has 14 F-35i Adir aircraft and is expected to receive a total of 50 planes to make two full squadrons by 2024.
The Israeli F-35i Adirs have taken part in several operations in the region over the past two years, making the Jewish State the first country to use the stealth fighter in a combat role in the region.
In late April the IAF opened a second squadron of F-35i stealth fighter jets called “Defenders of the Negev” with the first planes expected to arrive at the beginning of next year.
The stealth jets have an extremely low radar signature allowing the jet to operate undetected deep inside enemy territory as well as evade advanced missile defense systems like the S-300 and S-400 missile defense systems which have been deployed in countries such as Syria.
With close air-support capabilities and a massive array of sensors, pilots of the stealth jet have unparalleled access to information while in the air.
Iran and Israel's comments come against the backdrop of increased tension between Iran and the US, and as the Islamic Republic is openly declaring that it is violating the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed that he will never allow Iran to develop the capability to make a nuclear bomb and that Israel will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria which would allow it to attack the Jewish State.
Hundreds of airstrikes on IRGC and Hezbollah targets in war-torn Syria have been blamed on Israel.
While an attack by Iranian proxies is a major concern for the IDF, it’s Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs that worry Israel’s defense establishment the most.
Last week Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz warned that Israel could act unilaterally to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“Iran has no chance in this war,” he said on Army Radio. “Therefore there is an opportunity there, through the tough economic pressure and the comprehensive sanctions, to prevent war, to achieve the objectives without war.”
But he added, “Israel will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, even if it has to act alone on that.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, meanwhile, blamed Netanyahu as being among those who “lured” US President Donald Trump’s into withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Zarif posted a tweet accusing Netanyahu and US National Security Adviser John Bolton killed an earlier agreement in 2005 by insisting that Iran stop all uranium enrichment.
“Now they’ve lured @realdonaldtrump into killing #JCPOA (the 2015 nuclear deal) w/the same delusion,” he wrote.
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