Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday warned Iran not to threaten Israel with destruction, saying the Iranians “will put themselves in a similar danger,” while Defense Minister Benny Gantz dismissed the “arrogant” words from Tehran as a “sign of weakness.”
“We repeat. Anyone who threatens to destroy Israel will put themselves in a similar danger,” Netanyahu said in response to comments by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who described Israel as “a virus that must be eliminated.”
During a speech marking Iran’s anti-Israel Quds Day, Khamenei said Israel’s establishment was an unequaled “crime against humanity,” repeated his characterization of the Jewish state as “a cancerous tumor” and said it was the creation of “Westerners and Jewish corporation owners.”
“Westerners & Jewish corporation owners’ main goal by fabricating the Zionist regime & this cancerous tumor was to build a stronghold to influence & dominate West Asia. So, they equipped the bogus, occupying regime with all kinds of military & non-military tools, even nukes,” Khamenei said in excerpts from the speech that were posted to Twitter.
Defense Minister and alternate prime minister Gantz said that Khamenei’s comments were a sign of Iranian weakness.
“As someone who is very familiar with the Iranian issue, and as someone who prepared the IDF’s operational capabilities, I would not suggest to anyone that they try and test us,” the former IDF chief of staff wrote on twitter.
“The State of Israel and the Zionist dream are a fait accompli, unlike the Iranian proxies that are trying to gain a foothold and undermine regional stability — an attempt that we will not allow to succeed.
“From my experience, the arrogant words of our enemies are a sign of weakness, but we will be ready for any threat, by any means,” he said.
The war of words also follows a more tangible conflict between the sides as reports claim Iran and Israel have been engaged in tit-for-tat cyberwarfare.
Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that Israel was behind a cyberattack on Iran’s largest port, Shahid Rajaee, located near the city of Bandar Abbas in the south of the country.
According to the report, the attack caused disarray at the terminal, creating a logjam on roads and waterways leading to the port.
Iran denied this, and said the damage was limited in scope. Israel has long accused Iran of using the port to send weapons to terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah.
The Shahid Rajaee cyberattack is said to have come in response to an Iranian cyber attack on Israeli water infrastructure in April.
“The cyberattack on the port in Iran was an Israeli response to the cyberattack that [the Iranians] carried out against Israel two weeks ago against Mekorot [national water company] components — an attack that failed,” the official from a Western country told Channel 12 news, on condition of anonymity.
“Israel hopes that [the Iranians] stop there. They attacked water infrastructure components. They didn’t really cause damage — but they crossed a line and [Israel] needed to retaliate,” the official said.
Meanwhile, numerous Israeli websites were targeted Thursday morning in a cyberattack, with hundreds of websites estimated hit, including some belonging to major firms, political groups and other organizations and individuals.
The website attack was linked by one expert to an activist group with ties to Turkey, North African countries and the Gaza Strip, but with no clear indication of ties to Iran. Channel 12 news, late Thursday, said it did not appear to have been initiated by Iran, but may have involved Iranian hackers.