Israel is ready to fight Iran on multiple fronts if it needs to, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, following the launch of Operation Shield and Arrow.
In separate comments, Netanyahu said that “95% of Israel’s security problems come from Iran,” referring to “an attempt by Iran to start a multi-front campaign against us.”
Israel “will do all it can to prevent Iran from establishing terror fronts around us,” he said at a conference for Habithonistim, a right-leaning group of former senior defense officers.
Netanyahu also said that Israel will do all it can to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and will try to prevent Iran from “establishing terror fronts around us.”
Netanyahu and Gallant did not convene the Security Cabinet before Operation Shield and Arrow, receiving permission from Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Meara to do so. They originally planned to target the terrorists on Friday, but waited for technical reasons.
The small forum that decided to launch the operation did not include National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who boycotted this week’s cabinet meeting and whose faction members did not take part in Knesset meetings and votes in protest of the lack of a response to the rockets from Gaza.
On Tuesday, Ben-Gvir tweeted: “It’s about time!” Foreign Minister Eli Cohen learned of the operation after landing in India for diplomatic meetings on Tuesday morning. He decided to shorten his visit to Delhi and return to Israel after his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A US Embassy spokesperson said that they are “closely following Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip that killed three leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Israel has the right to protect itself and its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by terrorist groups.
“We are also aware of reports that 10 civilians were tragically killed in the Israeli strikes,” the spokesperson said. “We call for all parties to deescalate the situation.”
In a meeting with White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk and Special Presidential Coordinator for Global Infrastructure and Energy Security Amos Hochstein on Monday, Netanyahu made vague reference to a planned response to recent rockets from Gaza, but did not tell them when it would happen, a diplomatic source said, confirming a report by KAN News.
A Biden administration source said that if there was a hint about the operation, it was so vague that McGurk and Hochstein did not understand it, but that, in any case, it was not the kind of situation that Jerusalem necessarily would tell Washington about in advance.
UN Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland said he was “deeply alarmed” by the military operation in Gaza, condemning the death of civilians in the strike, which he said killed five women, four children and a doctor.
“I urge all concerned to exercise maximum restraint and avoid an escalation,” he said. “I remain fully engaged with all sides in an attempt to avoid a broader conflict with devastating consequences for all.”
The European Union said that it is “gravely concerned by the escalation in Gaza following today's Israeli air raids…Civilian lives must be protected under all circumstances. We urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint, promote calm and work towards a political horizon and regional stability.”
Russian citizen killed in strikes, Ohana talks operation in Italy
Among the civilians killed in the strike were Dzhamal Khasvan, a Russian dentist, and his wife and son. He left behind two more children, who recently received Russian citizenship.
Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov expressed regret and sent condolences to the victims.
“We call to stop all unilateral violent actions, including the creation of irreversible realities on the ground and disproportionate use of force by anyone, which causes casualties among innocent Palestinians and Israelis. There can be no justification for such actions, no matter what goals they are motivated by,” Viktorov said. “Only a return to direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations on all final status issues will be able to break the vicious circle of violence and radicalization as well as to restore mutual trust.”
Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana briefed the foreign affairs committees of both houses of the Italian parliament on the operation in Gaza, during his visit to Rome on Tuesday, saying: “The senior Islamic Jihad [terrorists] killed this morning worked day and night on terrorism against Israel, sponsored by Iran. Israel opened a focused operation against them and their extreme terrorist organization to bring quiet back to the residents of Israel and prevent an escalation.”
Ohana said no country can tolerate over 100 rockets being shot at its civilians.
Several Italian legislators spoke up to express support for Israel’s fight against terrorism, Ohana’s office reported.