While politicians both in Israel and Iran have stated that they would rather not see tensions escalate, religious leader Ahmad Khatami warned on Friday that “if Israel acts foolishly, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be totally wiped out.” Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visited Katzrin and said that while Israel should not brag too much about its successful attack in Syria, it is lucky to be able to have a dialogue both with the US and Russia.
Iranian military equipment on display Photo Credit: EPA
Top Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami warned on Friday that if Israel “acts foolishly, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be totally wiped out.”
“We will expand our missile program and our capabilities despite pressure from Western countries … to let Israel know that if it acts foolishly, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be totally wiped out,” Khatami told worshippers at Tehran University. Iranian state TV broadcast Khatami’s speech while showing video footage of worshippers chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”
Iran has so far denied the reports that it launched missiles at Israel’s territory on Thursday, claiming those claims were “fabricated” and “baseless,” and blamed the “international community’s silence” for Israel’s attacks.
Politicians on both sides have voiced their desire to keep things at bay and prevent further escalation. This morning, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visited the northern city of Katzrin and said that Iran’s earlier message to Israel, voiced by the regime’s president Hassan Rouhani, was “an important message.” Rouhani said earlier that Iran does not seek “new tensions” in the region.
“It is an important message and I hope it is said with the utmost sincerity, and we really aren’t looking for any kind of dispute or conflict with anyone,” Liberman said. “We did not come to the Iranian border, they came there and if this message becomes a political reality, then there really is something good coming from the direction.”
At the same time, Liberman also sent a message to the Assad regime, saying: “Get rid of the Iranians, get rid of Qassem Suleimani and the Quds Force. They are not helping you; they are only hurting you, and their presence will just cause problems and damage. Get rid of the Iranians and perhaps we will really be able to change the reality here.”
He added that there is no reason to be too “boastful” about Israel’s successful military achievements in Syria, and also responded to the support received from the US by saying, “The fact that we can speak both with the White House and the Kremlin and have an open and honest dialogue with them is not something to be taken for granted. It is something that is not reserved for many countries.”