Iran warns Israeli bases are within reach as pair lock horns over Syria.
Al-Jazeera reported on Friday that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard launched an additional threat against Israel:
“Direct confrontation with Israel will end in its destruction,” the Islamic state said.
Earlier, the second-in-command of the Revolutionary Guard said that “Israel has nowhere to run to other than to the sea. Our missiles will cover the entire country, including the air force bases.”
Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, reacting to earlier comments by Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanhayu, said on Friday: “If any war happens, it will definitely be followed by your annihilation.”
Marking Israel’s 70th birthday, Netanyahu said in Tel Aviv: “We hear the threats from Iran. IDF fighters and the security branches are ready for any development. We will fight anyone who tries to harm us.”
The ramping up of the rhetoric comes at the time when the region’s most bellicose states have locked horns over the fate of Syria, particularly in the era after the Islamic State’s collapse.
In recent months, Israel has increasingly become militarily involved in response to what it believes is Iran’s growing influence on its doorstep.
An Israeli airstrike on a Syrian airbase near the Syrian city of Homs this month killed at least seven Iranian military personnel in an incident that Tehran vowed would not be left unanswered.
That episode, which marked a direct confrontation between Israel and Tehran, albeit in Syria, demonstrated that the change of dynamics in the Syrian conflict might escalate the risk of direct war between the two enemies.
“Hands are on the trigger and missiles are ready and will be launched at any moment that the enemy tries to carry out its sinister plot against our lands,” Salami said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency, which is affiliated to the Guards.
The senior Iranian commander said Iran could target the existence of Zionists if it came under attack. “North and west of Israel are at the intersection of fire; you will not escape … You live in the dragon’s mouth,” he said.
“The smallest goal would be targeting your existence,” he added. “You cannot bear it. When your civilians and military forces escape, you’ll have no way but to the sea. Don’t trust in your airbases, they are within reach … your miscalculation would be dangerous.”
Last week, while Israel remained silent on an attack on the Tiyas Military Airbase in Syria’s Homs, senior US government officials told NBC new that Israeli fighter jets carried out the airstrikes and informed the White House of its intentions beforehand.
With Russia pointing the finger at Israel shortly after the attack, a senior IDF official told the New York Times that the strike, intended to hit Iranian installations and personnel, was carried out by Israel.
Speaking to the newspaper’s senior analyst Thomas Friedman, the officer said the attack—which claimed the lives of seven Iranian soldiers—was “the first time we attacked live Iranian targets—both facilities and people.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stressed last week military preparedness and security would need to be bolstered, taking the cue from Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi who threatened just hours prior that Israel will regret the “misdeed” of striking at the T-4 airbase.
Israel’s defence establishment — the country’s various intelligence services and the military — believes an Iranian revenge attack would likely be carried out by the IRGC’s air force, with surface-to-surface missiles or armed drones, The Times of Israel has learned.
That would be a departure from previous clashes between Israel and Iran, in which Tehran’s reprisals were carried out through proxies, like the Hezbollah terrorist group, rather than by its own Revolutionary Guard Corps.