‘Lame!’: Ben Gvir slammed for hinting Israel behind overnight strike in Iran

‘Childish’ far-right minister appears to criticize strike as weak even as Jerusalem, Tehran mum on Israeli connection; Lapid: ‘Unforgivable’ tweet disgraces country, harms security

File - National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir arrives at a voting station in Tel Aviv, during the municipal elections, February 27, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
File - National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir arrives at a voting station in Tel Aviv, during the municipal elections, February 27, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir came under severe criticism and accusations of harming Israel’s strategy against Iran after he suggested Jerusalem was behind blasts that rocked an Iranian base on Friday.

Iran’s state media reported that there were explosions in the central province of Isfahan, while a section of US media quoting American officials reported Israel had carried out “limited” retaliatory strikes targeting a military site in the city.

When contacted by AFP, neither the Israeli military nor the government offered comments on the blasts.

But Ben Gvir, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, wrote “Lame!” on X, using Hebrew slang, a suggestion Israel was behind the blasts, but its actions were weak.

The comment from the far-right warhawk swiftly sparked anger from political allies and foes, as well as chuckles from Iran.

“Never before has a minister done such heavy damage to the country’s security, its image, and its international status,” Opposition Leader Yair Lapid wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“In an unforgivable tweet of one word, Ben Gvir managed to sneer and shame Israel from Tehran to Washington.”

File: Opposition Leader Yair Lapid addresses the Knesset plenum, April 15, 2024. (Noam Moskowitz/Office of the Knesset Spokesperson)

Unnamed government officials close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were quoted by Channel 12 news calling the far-right minister “childish and irrelevant to any discussion.” They accused him of wreaking extensive damage on Israel’s national security.

The Israeli military has been known to decline to take responsibility for some sensitive operations abroad, including airstrikes, part of a strategy meant to avoid forcing the aggrieved party to feel as if it has to strike back to save face. Iran’s downplaying of the incident, with some casting doubt on Israel being responsible and indications it would not retaliate, came in stark contrast to strident threats from Iranian officials of an immediate reprisal should Israel attack Iran.

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim, an academic and host of a podcast on geopolitics, said that Ben Gvir “confirms the Israeli operation and ridicules it.”

“By doing so he undermines Israel’s power of deterrence. An absolute disgrace for a minister,” he wrote on X.

Iran’s Tasnim news agency, which has downplayed the attack along with the rest of Iran’s state-controlled media, referenced Ben Gvir’s post in a tweet, commenting that Israel was mocking itself.

Israel had previously warned it would hit back after Iran fired hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel almost a week ago, in retaliation for a deadly strike on April 1 — which Tehran blamed on its foe — that leveled Iran’s consular annex at its embassy in Syria.

Fears of a major regional spillover from the Gaza war have since soared.

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