Britain, Germany knock Iran after its exchange of fire with Israel

Merkel says rocket attack on north a ‘serious provocation’; May says Israel has ‘every right to defend itself’; Russia calls for dialogue

British Prime Minister Theresa May, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking to the media following talks at the Chancellery in Berlin, July 20, 2016. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images/via JTA)
British Prime Minister Theresa May, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking to the media following talks at the Chancellery in Berlin, July 20, 2016. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images/via JTA)

Britain and Germany condemned Iran on Thursday for attacking Israel the night before, prompting a massive retaliation in Syria, with UK Prime Minister Theresa May appealing to Russia to use its influence to stop any further offensives.

A spokesman for the prime minister told reporters, “We condemn Iran’s attack on Israel. Israel has every right to defend itself.”

He added, “We call on Iran to refrain from any further attacks and for calm on all sides. We call on Russia to use its influence in Syria to prevent further Iranian attacks.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the latest hostilities were a matter of “war and peace” for the region.

Earlier Thursday, Germany condemned the attack, stressing the Jewish state’s right to defend itself. At the same time, Berlin said it was important not to let the situation escalate.

“We note reports of Iranian rocket attacks on Israeli military bases with great concern,” a spokesperson for Germany’s Foreign Ministry said. “These attacks are a serious provocation that we strongly condemn. As we have always emphasized, Israel has a right to self-defense.

“At the same time, it is crucial that there is no further escalation,” the spokesperson continued. “In particular, this means that we must do everything we can to finally achieve a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict — to end the suffering of the Syrian people, but also so as not to jeopardize stability in the entire region.“

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, called for dialogue between Israel and Iran.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a meeting with his Dutch counterpart in Moscow on April 13, 2018. (AFP Photo/Yuri Kadobnov)

“This is a very disturbing trend. We proceed from the fact that all issues should be solved through dialogue,” Lavrov said at a press conference, adding that Moscow had warned Israel to avoid “all actions that could be seen as provocative.”

The Israeli army said Thursday morning that it had coordinated with Russia its strikes in Syria, which it said set back Iranian military capabilities in the country by “many months.”

Those followed the firing of some 20 rockets at Israeli military bases on the Golan Heights by Iranian forces from southern Syria.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said the IDF had destroyed “nearly all” of Iran’s military infrastructure sites in Syria.

“The Iranians tried to attack the sovereign territory of Israel,” Liberman said. “Not one Iranian rocket landed in the State of Israel. Nobody was hurt. Nothing was damaged. And we’re to be thankful for that. We damaged nearly all of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria.”

Liberman stressed that Israel had no interest in an escalation but that Iranian provocation would always be met with force.

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