Iranian officials continued their anti-Israel rhetoric on Tuesday, threatening to improve the accuracy of their country’s missiles and warning that terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah were prepared to unleash an “inferno” on the Jewish state.
Speaking at a conference on space technology, the secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, was quoted by the Tasnim news agency as saying that “it has been an absolute disgrace for the Zionists when an Israeli minister was proved to be a spy, when there are hundreds of kilometers of tunnels dug underneath their feet, and when the resistance forces in Gaza and Lebanon have missiles with pinpoint accuracy and are ready to respond to any foolish Israeli behavior with an inferno.”
He was referring to the conviction of former minister Gonen Segev of spying for Tehran, and to a recent operation in which the Israel Defense Forces uncovered and destroyed six subterranean passages penetrating into Israel from Lebanon. Israel says they are attack tunnels dug by Lebanese terror group Hezbollah — a close Iranian ally.
Shamkhani also said Tehran has the capabilities to extend its missile range, but won’t do so due to its “defensive doctrine.”
“Iran has no scientific or operational restriction for increasing the range of its military missiles, but based on its defensive doctrine, it is continuously working on increasing the precision of the missiles and has no intention to increase their range,” he said, according to the Reuters news agency.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami railed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign against Iran’s missile program, which was among the reasons cited by US President Donald Trump in leaving the landmark 2015 nuclear deal and reimposing crippling sanctions.
“The enemies say Iran’s missile power should be eliminated, but we have repeatedly said our missile capabilities are not negotiable,” Hatami said, according to Reuters.
Shamkhani also hit back at Washington’s demand that Iran halt its satellite-launching project, vowing to continue it “to improve the quality of people’s lives and increase the country’s technological prowess.”
The comments followed a series of reciprocal taunts by Israeli and Iranian leaders in recent weeks as tensions have risen on the Israeli-Syrian border between IDF and Iranian forces.
Last week, Israel reportedly conducted a rare daylight missile attack on Iranian targets in Syria. In response, Iran fired a surface-to-surface missile from Syria at the northern Golan Heights, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system over the Mount Hermon ski resort, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
Hours later, in the predawn hours of January 21, the Israeli Air Force launched retaliatory strikes on Iranian targets near Damascus and on the Syrian air defense batteries that fired upon the attacking Israeli fighter jets, the army said.
Twenty-one people were killed in the Israeli raids in Syria, 12 of them Iranian fighters, a Britain-based Syrian war monitor said the following day. Iran has denied that its citizens were among the dead.
On Monday, the deputy head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said Tehran’s strategy was to eventually wipe Israel off the “global political map.”
Asked by a reporter in Tehran about Israeli threats to strike Iranian forces deployed in Syria, Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami was quoted by Iranian news outlets as saying, “Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map. And it seems that, considering the evil that Israel is doing, it is bringing itself closer to that.”
He added: “We announce that if Israel does anything to start a new war, it will obviously be the war that will end with its elimination, and the occupied territories will be returned. The Israelis will not have even a cemetery in Palestine to bury their own corpses.”
Israel sees Iranian entrenchment in Syria as a major threat and in recent years has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against targets linked to Iran, which alongside its proxies and Russia is fighting on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.