In a speech on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that military action against Iran was on the table for Israel.
“We will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said at a graduation ceremony for Israeli Air Force pilots. “We do not take lightly the threats made against us, nor do we shy away from them. Our policy is clear and consistent: whoever tries to harm us will suffer a crushing blow.”
Netanyahu’s comments come amid heightened tensions in the region, and after Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in an apparent Israeli plot. Since Fakhrizadeh’s death, Israel has been hyping the threat of Iranian attacks, despite Iran’s clear desire to avoid a military confrontation before President Trump leaves office.
Fakhrizadeh’s killing came after a report said President Trump reviewed options to attack an Iranian nuclear site last month. Israel took the news as a signal to escalate tensions. Besides being the likely perpetrator of Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, Israel also ramped up airstrikes in Syria against what it claims are Iranian targets.
Netanyahu mentioned Israel’s campaign in Syria. “We will continue to act against attempts by Iran and its proxies to establish military bases in Syria. We will not compromise on this issue,” he said. While Iran has a small presence in Syria, it is greatly overblown by Israel to justify airstrikes in the country.
Despite constant Israeli airstrikes in Syria, any retaliation by Syria would almost certainly be blamed on Iran. On Monday, Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Aviv Kohavi said Israel is prepared to “forcefully” respond to any attack by Iran or any members of the “radical axis,” referring to groups in Syria, Gaza, and Lebanon.