Israel will defend itself ‘by any means,’ PM says amid fears of border skirmish
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Israel will defend itself ‘by any means,’ PM says amid fears of border skirmish

As tensions skyrocket following several strikes on Tehran-related targets that are blamed on Israel, cabinet minister says some of the attacks ‘aren’t ours’

Amid reports of a wave of Israeli strikes against Iranian targets and Iran-backed militias in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday urged the international community to take action against the regional threat posed by Tehran and its proxies.

In a 17-second Hebrew-language YouTube video, the premier vowed that Israel would continue to “defend its security by any means necessary.”

“Iran is acting in a broad front to produce murderous terror attacks against Israel,” he said. “Israel will continue to defend its security by any means necessary.

“I call on the international community to act immediately to ensure Iran stops these attacks,” he added.

Tensions have shot up in recent days after Israel carried out airstrikes on Iranian and Iran-backed fighters in Syria to thwart what it said was a plot to fly explosives-laden drones into the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on July 23, 2019. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)

Jerusalem has also been blamed for airstrikes in Lebanon and Iraq, and Hezbollah terror chief Hassan Nasrallah gave a fiery speech Sunday in which he vowed revenge for the deaths of two of the group’s members.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun and a powerful Iraqi paramilitary force on Monday both said the respective strikes on their countries were a “declaration of war” by Israel.

However, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Monday said some of the strikes in the region attributed to Israel in recent days “aren’t ours,” perhaps in an effort to cool regional tensions.

Finance Minister and head of the Kulanu party Moshe Kahlon attends a press conference of the Kulanu party in Tel Aviv on February 13, 2019. (Flash90)

“We’ve gone through a tense and critical 72 hours,” Kahlon, a member of the high-level security cabinet, said at a ceremony in Kiryat Bialik dealing with housing.

“The prime minister once remarked that every explosion in the Middle East is attributed to Israel. I want to tell you that there are also things being attributed to us that aren’t ours. Since I cannot say what was us and what wasn’t, I’m saying that there are things being attributed to us that aren’t ours,” Kahlon said.

Soldiers in northern Israel have been put on high alert over fears of a reprisal attack from Hezbollah or Iran following the airstrikes.

According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, the army believes Hezbollah will attempt to attack soldiers or a military installation and not civilians, iting a military officer. The report added that the Israeli military would be deploying extra troops to the area.

The officer said Israel’s response to such a reprisal would be “disproportionate.”

Broken windows are seen on the 11-floor building that houses the media office of Hezbollah in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, August 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his defense aides to brief Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz on security developments, a rare nod to his electoral rival seemingly meant to telegraph’s Israel’s seriousness is confronting the threat.

Hezbollah is thought to be constrained domestically by concerns inside Lebanon that a reprisal attack could wind up dragging the country into war.

Israel’s Channel 13 news reported Monday that Israel has warned Lebanon that any Hezbollah attack against Israel would bring an Israeli response against Lebanon as a whole: “It won’t distinguish between Lebanon and Hezbollah.”

According to the report, Netanyahu asked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday to pass the message from him to Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Hariri on Monday told envoys from the five permanent members of the Security Council that Lebanon wanted to avoid “any slide towards a serious escalation,” but said the international community needed to reject Israel’s “flagrant violation” of Lebanese sovereignty, Lebanese news site Naharnet reported..

He and Lebanese president Michael Aoun called a meeting of top defense officials for Tuesday to discuss the rising tensions.

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