Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a stern speech Wednesday 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.
“Our policy can be summed up in three words: ‘Steadfastness against aggression.’ Steadfastness on defense, steadfastness on deterrence, steadfastness against anyone who threatens to destroy us,” he added.
His warning came shortly after Tehran threatened to retaliate for a deadly Monday airstrike in Syria that has been widely attributed to Israel.
Russia, Syria, Iran and the United States have all said Israel launched the missile barrage on the T-4 Air Base near Palmyra in central Syria. Israeli officials refused to comment on the strike, which reportedly killed at least 14 people, including at least seven Iranian military personnel. Hebrew media reports have indicated that the target was an Iranian base, and that a major weapons system of some kind was destroyed.
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.”
On Tuesday, a top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened Israel over the air raid.
“The crimes will not remain unanswered,” Ali Akbar Velayati said during a visit to Syria, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
Referring to Iranian threats of retaliation, Netanyahu said plainly, “Don’t test the resolve of the State of Israel.”
He then went on to address the Iranian people directly. “Our two ancient peoples will be able to live together again” after the Islamic Republic falls, he said.
Israel has regularly expressed its concern about the Iranian presence in Syria, fearing the long-term establishment of hostile forces in the neighboring country.
Israeli officials did not appear to be taking the threat of a retaliatory attack — either by Iran, or its proxy, the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah — lightly, and IDF forces are remaining on high alert in the north.
Iran has deployed thousands of fighters to Syria, presented as “volunteers” from Afghanistan and Pakistan and trained locally by Iranian “military advisers.” It denies having a military presence in the war-torn country where the volunteers are fighting on behalf of ally Syrian President Bashar Assad as he campaigns to suppress an insurgency now in its eight year.
Iran does not recognize the existence of Israel and routinely calls for and predicts its demise. Israel views Tehran under the regime of the ayatollahs as an existential threat that seeks nuclear arms and funds and arms terrorist groups, notably Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border.
Israel is believed to have carried out numerous raids inside Syria since 2013, targeting the regime and the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran. Israel has vowed to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining advanced weapons and missiles, fearing they would be used against the Jewish state.