US has right to self-defense, Netanyahu says after Soleimani assassination

The Foreign Ministry and security officials placed Israeli embassies and consuls around the world on high alert, over concerns of Iranian attacks.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett at meeting with Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and security officials, Jan. 3, 2020 (photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett at meeting with Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and security officials, Jan. 3, 2020
Israel supports the United States, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the aftermath of Thursday’s targeted assassination of IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.
“Just as Israel has the right of self-defense, the United States has exactly the same right,” said Netanyahu – who cut his Athens trip short in the aftermath of the killing and returned to Israel on Friday instead of Saturday due to security concerns.
“Qassem Soleimani is responsible for the death of American citizens and many other innocent people. He was planning more such attacks,” Netanyahu said prior to leaving Athens.
Netanyahu, who had just discussed Iran with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by telephone on Wednesday, lauded US President Donald Trump, saying he “deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively. Israel stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security and self-defense.”
Soleimani has been the target of several alleged Israeli plots in the past. In October, Tehran said it had foiled an Arab-Israeli plot to assassinate him by planting 350-500 kg. of explosives in a congregation hall for Shi’ite commemoration ceremonies in his home province of Kerman.
On Friday morning, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett held security consultations in the Kirya in Tel Aviv to discuss the threat to Israel in light of the attack.
Among those who attended were IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir, the Head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Tamir Heyman, Mossad Head Yossi Cohen, security cabinet member Avi Ditcher, and National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat, who had been with Netanyahu in Greece on Thursday but returned ahead of the prime minister.
Bennett had served as acting prime minister until Netanyahu returned Friday afternoon from Greece.
While Netanyahu has asked ministers not to discuss the Soleimani attack publicly several Israeli politicians publicly applauded the strike.
Blue and White Party head and former IDF chief-of-staff Benny Gantz said the assassination of Soleimani was “the appropriate response to anyone responsible for the murder of countless innocent people and for undermining global stability. The message to the leaders of terrorism is strong and clear: you will be held accountable for your actions.”
Blue and White No.2 Yair Lapid congratulated Trump “and the entire Middle East on the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani. He planned and led deadly terror attacks from Damascus to Buenos Aires, and is responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent civilians. He got exactly what he deserved.”
Blue and White MK Moshe Ya’alon, a former IDF chief of staff and former defense minister, tweeted that “the world in general, and the Middle East in particular, has been freed from a mass murderer who disseminated terror and death in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Yemen, Gulf states and many other areas in the world. Good riddance!”
Labor-Gesher leader Amir Peretz, formerly defense minister, welcomed news of the attack, describing the IRGC commander as a “major factor in inciting the region,” and “the architect of hostile outposts on our border,” but warned that “we must prepare for the event that the Iranians and their proxies see Israel as a close and ready target for revenge.”
Peretz warned that air defense systems and shelters must be bolstered in the north “before it’s too late.”