Israel is preparing offensive options against Iran in case they are needed, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in an interview with Channel 12 News on Sunday.
Tensions between Israel and Iran have intensified in recent weeks, after the assassination of a top Iranian officer in Tehran last month that it blames on Israel, a number of other deaths of security and scientific personnel inside Iran, airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria, threatening rhetoric from Iranian leaders, and Iran’s increasing violations of nuclear agreements.
These tensions led Israel to urge its citizens in Turkey to leave immediately in recent days, over concerns that Iranian agents were planning to kill or kidnap Israelis there. The warnings came amid unverified reports in the press that Israeli and Turkish intelligence had together thwarted several planned attacks by a broad network of Iranian agents, nabbing some of the suspects.
Given what Israel has described as an imminent and concrete threat of an Iranian attack against Israelis in Istanbul, Gantz said, “We aren’t able to personally protect every Israeli anywhere in the world.”
“We are in contact with the relevant Turkish authorities, and we are of course mainly preparing offensive capabilities, if and when they are needed,” he said. “I suggest that the Iranians not test these capabilities.”
Gantz’s statements followed similar remarks by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett earlier in the day, who warned Iran against attempts to orchestrate terror attacks against Israelis abroad, threatening that anyone who tries to will pay the price.
“We are currently witnessing Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in various overseas locations,” Bennett said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
“Our new rule: Whoever sends, pays,” Bennett warned, according to an English-language statement of his remarks provided by his office. “We will continue to strike those who send the terrorists, and those who send those who send them.”
Israel’s security establishment is acting to foil such attempts before they can be carried out, Bennett said.
Noting that the government had asked Israelis to avoid unnecessary travel to Turkey, and in particular Istanbul, Bennett said: “The danger is still great. I call on the citizens of Israel to show personal responsibility and protect themselves.”