In north, Netanyahu says Tehran planning more attacks

PM says Israel ‘taking all the necessary steps to prevent Iran from establishing itself in the area’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tours the northern border on November 24, 2019. (YouTube screen capture)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tours the northern border on November 24, 2019. (YouTube screen capture)

On a visit to the northern border on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran was planning new attacks in the region, but insisted Israel was working to disrupt them.

Netanyahu cited US Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, who told the New York Times earlier this week that Iran was unlikely to have been deterred by increased US troop deployments in the Middle East, and remained on track to carry out a large-scale attack in the region.

“My judgment is that it is very possible they will attack again,” McKenzie told the newspaper.

“Pay attention to what Gen. McKenzie said,” Netanyahu said Sunday. “Iran is planning additional attacks. I can confirm that, and I can confirm to you that we are continuing with our plans to disrupt that aggression by various means.”

Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, speaks next to a picture of the operation targeting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a press briefing October 30, 2019, at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

Netanyahu spoke during a visit to the northern border, where he was briefed by top IDF commanders.

He said Israel would continue to counter Iranian efforts to entrench militarily in Syria.

“Iran’s belligerence in the region — including against us — continues,” he said. “We are taking all the necessary steps to prevent Iran from establishing itself here in the area.

“That includes the necessary activity to prevent the delivery of lethal weapons from Iran to Syria, whether by air or over land.”

The prime minister added that Israel would counter reported Iranian efforts to turn Yemen and Iraq into bases for launching rockets and missiles into Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett tour the northern border on November 24, 2019. (Haim Tzach/GPO)

“Our commitment to fight Iran’s aggression is absolute,” he said.

Netanyahu’s premiership is in crisis after he failed to form a government in the wake of an election in April and another one in September. And his future appeared to be in real peril after the attorney general on Thursday announced plans to indict him on corruption charges.

But the prime minister insisted during his northern tour that he was “doing everything necessary to continue the work of the government and the Security Cabinet… by all necessary means, to preserve the security of the citizens of Israel and the things that are essential for the State of Israel.

“Whoever knows me knows that I am doing this,” he said. “I am doing this in the best way possible out of a supreme commitment to the security of Israel. The considerations are completely substantive.”

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett joined Netanyahu on the visit, and issued a similar warning to Iran.

“Our message to Iran’s terrorist forces in Syria: You have no business here, you have no reason to entrench yourselves. Anything you try to accomplish here will meet with a strong and determined IDF that will hurt you.”

Bennett added: “To Iran’s leaders we say: Focus on your citizens, on improving the lives of Iran’s citizens, and not on these unsuccessful efforts to hurt Israel’s citizens.”

The two were briefed by Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir and Northern Command chief Maj. Gen. Amir Baram.

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