Iran will destroy Israel if it doesn’t stop its “childish game,” a senior military leader in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps threatened Thursday.
“Iran is not Syria. If Israel wants to survive a few more days, it has to stop this childish game,” Ali Shirazi, liaison for Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the elite Quds Force, said.
“Iran has the capability to destroy Israel and given the excuse, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be razed to the ground,” he said, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.
Shirazi’s threat came in the wake of a predawn Monday missile barrage on the T-4 Air Base near Palmyra in central Syria. Iranian media reported that seven members of the country’s military were killed in the strike, out of at least 14 reported fatalities.
#Iran's Leader's representative to #IRGC Quds Force Ali Shirazi: Iran is not #Syria. If #Israel wants to survive a few more days, it has to stop this child game. Iran has the ability to destroy Israel & given the excuse, Tel Aviv & Haifa will be razed to the ground.
— raz zimmt (@RZimmt) April 12, 2018
One was named as a colonel in the air force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Israel has refused to comment on the attack, for which it has been blamed by Iran, Russia and Syria. Two US officials were also quoted as saying that Israel had carried out the strike, adding that Washington was informed in advance.
Shirazi’s threat also comes against a backdrop of heightened tensions between Syria, backed by Iran and Russia on the one side and the US — and possibly its European allies — on the other.
Washington has threatened to punish Syria militarily for a chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta over the weekend in which some 40 people died.
On Tuesday a different adviser to Khamenei threatened Israel.
“The crimes will not remain unanswered,” Ali Akbar Velayati said during a visit to Syria, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
The target of the reported airstrike was the Tiyas air base — also known as the T-4 air base — outside Palmyra in central Syria. Israeli TV reports said Iran was building an air base there, and that a major weapons system of some kind had been destroyed.
Israel has previously carried out at least one explicitly acknowledged attack on the base, which it said was home to an Iranian drone program.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a stern speech at a state ceremony on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, warned Iran not to test Israel’s resolve, asserting that the Jewish state would respond to Tehran’s “aggression” with “steadfastness.”
“We are preventing Iranian activity in Syria. These are not just words,” Netanyahu asserted.
Without going into specifics, Netanyahu said that “the events in recent days teach us that standing up to evil and aggression is the mission imposed on every generation.”
“In the Holocaust we were helpless, defenseless and voiceless,” he said. “In truth, our voice was not heard at all. Today we have a strong country, a strong army, and our voice is heard among the nations.”
Also on Wednesday, responding the the escalating threats between Israel and Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin asked Netanyahu to avoid any steps that could increase instability in Syria.
Netanyahu, for his part, said Israel would continue to counter Iran’s efforts to build up its military presence in the war-torn country.
Alexander Fulbright contributed to this report.