Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi threatened to destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa at the slightest provocation in a speech he delivered during the country’s National Army Day parade that also fell on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“The slightest mistake against our country will be responded with a harsh response and will be accompanied by the destruction of Haifa and Tel Aviv,” Raisi said according to an English language translation of his speech posted on his office’s web page.
"The extra-regional and American forces should leave the region as soon as possible because it is in their own interest and in the interest of the region."Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi
“The enemies of the Islamic Revolution, especially the Zionist Regime, have received the message of the power of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he explained.
Iran's former crown prince visits Israel
Raisi also called on United States forces to leave the Middle East stating: extra-regional forces, especially American forces, should leave the region as soon as possible because they threaten the security of the region and have not and will not provide security for the nations of the region.” He stressed that it was the forces of the Islamic Republic that provided stability to the region.
He spoke amid rising tensions between Israel and the Islamic Republic, as the IDF has struck at Iranian-based targets and Tehran is believed to be behind the rocket fire by Hamas against Israel’s southern and northern border earlier this month.
In an unusual move, Israel’s security cabinet met on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and according to KAN, it discussed threats against Israel from the north.
Cohen visits Azerbaijan
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen landed in Azerbaijan for a two-day visit. It was his first trip abroad since taking office and his first to the Shia Muslim country that neighbors Iran and Russia and from which Israel receives 30% of its oil.
Iran has been uneasy over the growing ties between Baku and Jerusalem. In a briefing with reporters on Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani emphasized the strength of Iran’s relationship with Azerbaijan, explaining that Israel’s initiative to get closer to Baku was part of an overall strategy of stoking regional discord, according to Press TV.
“Since the Zionist regime’s so-called national security and survival strategies are anchored in creating and stoking instability and insecurity across the [West Asia] region and in the Muslim world, its mischief will not be exclusively directed at Tehran-Baku ties,” Kan’ani said.
While in Baku, Cohen will meet with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, the latter of whom just visited Israel at the end of March when the country open its first-ever Embassy in Israel. Azerbaijan is the first Shia Muslim country to do so.
The two countries also enjoy strong security cooperation and Israel is an important arms supplier to Azerbaijan. Security experts have also speculated that the country’s air bases could be used by Israel to launch an aerial attack against Iranian nuclear targets.
Last month Azerbaijan’s newly installed Ambassador to Israel Mukhtar Mammadov told The Jerusalem Post, that his country would not allow its airbases to be used to strike at Iran.
“Azerbaijan is a strategic partner for Israel due to its geographical location and the fact that it is the only Shia Muslim-Shiite country to open an embassy in Israel,” Cohen said after landing.
To help strengthen these ties, his delegation included representatives from 20 Israeli firms dealing in cyber and homeland security as well as in water management and agriculture.
Prior to his departure Cohen spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang about Israeli and regional concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Cohen asked that China use the ties between Beijing and Tehran to sway the Islamic Republic to halt its push to develop atomic weapons.
“The international community must act immediately to prevent the Ayatollah regime in Tehran from obtaining nuclear capabilities,” Cohen said.
“The State of Israel will act in any way to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capability. Iran is a focus of instability and its regional activities harm the entire Middle East. Wherever Iran is, it brings with it violence, terrorism, poverty and misery,” Cohen stated.
China has recently increased its activity in the region, brokering a deal by which Saudi Arabia and Iran established diplomatic ties.
Cohen also spoke on Monday with US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, explaining that strong cooperation between their two countries was needed to prevent a nuclear Iran. He stressed the importance of keeping a credible military threat on the table.
On Monday night at the national Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu linked the Nazi’s final solution in which six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust with Iran’s threat to annihilate Israel.
“The victory of the past does not alone guarantee the victory of the future... That is why we firmly fight any nuclear agreement with Iran, which would pave its way to nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.
On Tuesday, Tobias Tunkel who directs the German Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and North Africa division condemned Raisi’s comments about destroying Tel Aviv and Haifa.
“Calling for the extinction of Israeli communities on #YomHaShoa is obnoxious and totally unacceptable,” he said.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.