Knesset speaker quashes WhatsApp rumors of imminent Iranian strike on Israel

Knesset speaker quashes WhatsApp rumors of imminent Iranian strike on Israel

Yuli Edelstein says ‘baseless rumors’ making rounds that IDF is bracing for an attack within next 24 to 48 hours are causing the public unnecessary stress

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, on January 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, on January 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein moved Monday to quash a wave of unsubstantiated rumors being shared on messaging platforms, which claimed the Israeli army was preparing for an Iranian attack on the Jewish state within 24 to 48 hours.

At a special meeting at the Knesset to commemorate the late Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism, Edelstein said: “It’s no secret that over the past day or so, winds have been blowing from the north. It has been brought to my attention that baseless rumors have been circulated on social networks and in WhatsApp groups over recent hours that are causing the public unnecessary tension.

“Without going into detail and without knowing exactly what the future holds for us, I want to tell all the citizens of Israel that you can rely on the commanders and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, who have done in the past, are doing in the present and, I am sure, will do in the future, all that is needed to protect our safety.”

One Hebrew message doing the rounds said, “The IDF’s estimation is that within the next 24 to 48 hours, Iran will start a war against Israel. The defense minister, who is visiting the US, took off around two hours ago to return to Israel…”

Avigdor Liberman indeed returned to Israel from the US on Monday evening, but this was according to his original schedule.

The rumors began after a series of missile strikes against Syrian regime forces in the central province of Hama on Sunday night-Monday morning which killed between 16 and 26 pro-regime fighters, mostly Iranians, according to various local reports.

Further concern was prompted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to cancel an address at the opening of the new Knesset session and instead to prepare for his evening press conference in Tel Aviv on Iran’s nuclear activities.

Knesset Chairman, Yuli Edelstein speaks during a ceremony at the Knesset honoring the torch lighters of the 70th Independence Day state ceremony at Mount Herzl, on April 15, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hezbollah-linked sources and other regime outlets have attributed the strikes to Israel, although Syrian state-owned news site Tishreen said late Sunday the raids were carried out by United States and British forces. The Western troops launched nine ballistic missiles from military bases in northern Jordan that struck Syrian bases near Aleppo and Hama, the news outlet said on its Facebook page.

There was no official statement from the US or Britain about the attack. As a rule, the Israeli Air Force does not comment on its activities abroad.

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