Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman holds a weapon during a visit to Sderot.
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman threatened – ahead of a meeting with senior American officials in Washington – to strike Tehran and all Iranian facilities in Syria “no matter the cost,” if the Islamic Republic were to attack Tel Aviv.
“If Iran strikes Tel Aviv, Israel will hit Tehran,” he warned in an interview with the London-based Saudi-owned online newspaper Elaph on Thursday. “We will destroy every military site in Syria where we see an attempt by Iran to position itself militarily. If there is not silence in Tel Aviv and in Israel, there won’t be any in Tehran.”
Liberman’s comments, in which he added that Israel was not interested in any wars, comes amid increasing tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran following the infiltration of an armed Iranian drone into northern Israel in February and an alleged Israeli strike in early April on a Syrian airbase that killed several Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps troops.
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian entrenchment on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon from Tehran via Syria, stressing that both are redlines for the Jewish State.
“We are not intervening, but Iran is trying to establish bases in Syria and arm them with advanced weapons. From there it wants to attack us,” Liberman said. “I cannot sit idly by while I watch Iran do that [so] close to the Golan Heights, while it supports Hezbollah, Syria and Lebanon.”
The defense minister also said that Israel is currently engaged in dialogue with other Arab countries, but did not specify which ones. “Things are moving in the right direction,” he said. “There is an understanding on 75% of things.”
Iran's Khamenei urges Muslim nations to unite against U.S., April 26, 2018 (Reuters)
Liberman called for constructive dialogue and full understanding with the Arab states on regional issues.
Taking a hard stance on the Iranian nuclear deal – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – Liberman compared it to the 1938 Munich Agreement, in which European leaders made an effort to contain Nazi Germany’s expansion throughout the continent.
“Europe is wrong again. In the past, the Europeans made a mistake when they signed the Munich Agreement in 1938 with Germany. We all know what happened and how Hitler tricked them,” he said.
According to him, the presumed withdrawal by the United States from the nuclear deal on May 12 will lead to economic collapse of the Iranian regime, which has so far spent more than $13 billion in Syria and spends $2b. a year on Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups.
Liberman, who began his visit to Washington on Wednesday by meeting with members of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, met with National Security Adviser John Bolton at the White House, followed by an official visit at the Pentagon for a meeting with his counterpart, Defense Secretary James Mattis.
The deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday that “Iran is capable of attacking the strategic depth of its enemies, and Israel is living in anxiety because of the existence of Islamic forces on its borders.”
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Muslim nations
to unite against the US, saying Tehran would never yield to “bullying,” state television reported on Thursday. “The Iranian nation has successfully resisted bullying attempts by America and other arrogant powers and we will continue to resist... All Muslim nations should stand united against America and other enemies,” he said.
“Unfortunately, there is war in our region between Muslim countries. The backward governments of some Muslim countries are fighting with other countries,” Khamenei said.