Iran on Tuesday threatened to “raze” the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa.
“For any mistake made by the enemy, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground by the order of the Supreme Leader,” the Islamic Republic’s ground forces commander, Kiumars Heydari, told the semi-official Iranian Tasnim news agency.
The threat came less than a day after a report on Monday said Thai security forces had thwarted several recent Iranian attempts to harm Western and Israeli targets in the Southeast Asian country — a popular tourist destination for Israelis.
Iran has reportedly been trying to retaliate for several high-profile assassinations and mysterious deaths in the Islamic Republic in recent months, including of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps colonel and a top scientist.
While the attempts in Thailand seem to have failed, Tehran is still believed to be planning attacks against Israelis there and elsewhere. Most notably, Israel has issued a rare direct warning to Israelis traveling or planning to travel to Turkey.
Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett noted “strategic” successes on the Iranian front during his year-long tenure as prime minister.
“This past year has marked a turning point in Israel’s strategy against Iran. We see the brave Iranian people take to the streets and protest against the oppression and tyranny of the regime, against hunger, against the corruption that is harming them. We’ve stepped it up,” he said during a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
“The State of Israel has recently begun operating against the head of the octopus of terrorism and not only against its many arms as was done in the past few decades. The days of immunity, in which Iran repeatedly harms Israel and promotes terrorism through its proxies in the region while remaining unharmed itself, are over,” said Bennett. “We are operating all the time and everywhere and will continue to do so.”
Addressing Iran’s nuclear program, Bennett said Tehran has “crossed a number of red lines in the past few years,” noting its 60% enrichment of uranium, a milestone it reached in April last year. “Israel cannot accept and will not accept such a situation,” Bennett said.
He added that in his meeting with the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi on Friday and clarified Israel’s position on this issue.
“We maintain our freedom of action against Iran’s nuclear program as much as necessary — with or without an agreement. We don’t just say it, we implement it,” the premier said.
Grossi’s visit came as Israel has expressed mounting concerns about Iran’s atomic activities and a potential return to the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers. Negotiations between Tehran and Western powers in Vienna, meanwhile, have been stalled since mid-March.
Lazar Berman contributed to this report.