TEHRAN — The deputy commander of Iran’s revolutionary guards warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to “practice swimming in the Mediterranean” because he would be forced to abandon his country.
“I tell the prime minister of the Zionist regime to practice swimming in the Mediterranean because soon you will have no choice, but flee into the sea,” Brigadier-General Hossein Salami said, according to the ultraconservative news website Fars news.
Speaking at a rally of the volunteer Basij militia in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, Salami said Israel could be destroyed by Iran’s Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
“They are not at the level of being a threat for us, Hezbollah is enough for destroying them,” he said.
Iran has supplied the Lebanese terror group with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles.
His comments echo the repeated threats of Israel’s enemies to drive Israel into the sea and wipe out the Jewish state.
Iran does not recognize Israel, and opposition to the Jewish state has been a central tenet of its government since the 1979 revolution.
In September Netanyahu accused Iran at the UN General Assembly of still trying to build nuclear weapons and vowed he would “never let a regime that calls for our destruction to develop nuclear weapons. Not now, not in 10 years, not ever.”
He also revealed three sites in Beirut that Israel says are being used by Hezbollah to hide underground precision missile production facilities.
Its officials regularly warn that Israel will soon cease to exist, although they are usually careful to indicate that this will not be due to a direct attack by Iran.
“In 25 years’ time, with the grace of God, no such thing as the Zionist regime will exist in the region,” said supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2015, which has become a frequently used prediction among hardliners.
On Monday, the Revolutionary Guard launched six ballistic missiles at terror groups in eastern Syria with “Death to Israel” on them.
The missiles also had anti-American and anti-Saudi slogans written on them. One missile shown on state television bore the slogans “Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to Al Saud,” referring to Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. The missile also bore in Arabic the phrase “kill the friends of Satan,” referring to a verse in the Quran on fighting infidels.
The missiles were targeting terrorists it blamed for an attack on a military parade last month.
At the funeral for the victims of the attack Salami had blamed Israel and the US for the attack despite competing claims of responsibility from Islamic State and an Arab separatist group, and warned that they can expect a “devastating” response from Iran.
“You have seen our revenge before … You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating and you will regret what you have done,” Salami said in a speech shown on state television, Reuters reported.
Tensions between Israel and Iran have also spiraled as Israel has vowed to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria and has carried out dozens of strikes against Iranian bases and attempts to supply advanced weapons to Hezbollah.