Israel Palestine: Expert says Iran ‘putting pressure on Israel’
Tehran has hinted at attacks on British, US and Israeli targets in the event of a response by the West, in a stark illustration of spiralling tensions in the region. The Mercer Street is owned by Japan and flies under the Liberian flag – but it is managed by Zodiac Maritime, a company owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.
Two people – the UK citizen and another from Romania – died during the drone attack, which has been blamed on Iran by the UK, the US and Israel.
Speaking in Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, yesterday, Mr Gantz described Iran’s behaviour as a major escalation.
He said: “Iran’s aggression in the region generally and on the maritime front, in particular, is intensifying.
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accusing Iran of “trying to shirk responsibility”
Defence minister Benny Gantz said Israel would respond “right away”
“This is the exact reason that we must act right now against Iran, which not only strives for a nuclear military program but also is leading to a dangerous arms race and the crumbling of stability in the Middle East.”
Mr Gantz claimed there were “hundreds” of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones operating in Iran, Yemen, Iraq and other countries.
He added: “In the past year, there have been no less than five Iranian attacks on international ships, some using UAVs manufactured by the Iranian military industry.”
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Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s incoming President, is nicknamed “the hangman”
Referring to Ebrahim Raisi, who is being sworn in as Iran’s President today, replacing the outgoing Hassan Rouhani, Mr Gantz said: “Iran, under the ‘hangman’ Raisi, who will take office this week, will be more dangerous to the world than it has been so far, more destructive to the region than it has been so far, and will strive to become an existential threat to Israel.”
Mr Gantz’s use of the nickname is a reference to allegations that Mr Raisi organised mass executions of prisoners at the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
Emphasising that Israel would not hold back, he stressed: “We will act to remove any such threat.
“Israel possesses a variety of tools and options to protect its citizens, and we will hold accountable anyone who seeks to harm us, in the time, place and methods that serve us and our security.
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Iran has had hundreds of drones in the Middle East, claimed Mr Gantz
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden
“This is not just an Israeli issue, the whole world sees the results of Iran’s aggression.”
Mr Gantz also referred to efforts to salvage the Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JPOCA) aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
He said: “And any agreement with Iran must also address the removal of its threat to the region, and its harm to innocent people and the world economy.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had accused Tehran of “trying to shirk responsibility” for the attack, and called its denial “cowardly”.
Iran’s military might in numbers
Iran yesterday pledged to hit back against any threat to its security in a thinly veiled threat against Britain.
Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said: “Iran has no hesitation in protecting its security and national interests and will respond promptly and strongly to any possible adventure.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in no doubt Tehran was behind the attacks when he addressed the matter, also yesterday.
He said: “Iran should face up to the consequences of what they’ve done.
Ebrahim Raisi and outgoing President Hassan Rouhani, pictured in June
“This was clearly an unacceptable and outrageous attack on commercial shipping, a UK national died.
“It is absolutely vital that Iran and every other country respects the freedoms of navigation around the world, and the UK will continue to insist on that.”
Mohsen Baharvand, Iran’s ambassador to London, was summoned to the Foreign Office for talks with Middle East Minister James Cleverly yesterday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated there would be a “collective response” – but said he did not believe the incident necessarily signalled anything about Mr Raisi, who officially takes office on Thursday.