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Berlin, Moscow call for Middle East restraint ahead of Iran’s expected strike on Israel

Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran, November 23, 2015. (Photo: REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/Kremlin)

The German and Russian governments both called for restraint in an effort to cool Middle East tensions ahead of the Iranian regime’s expected strike on Israel.

While Germany backs Israel and the Russian government has a close military alliance with Iran, both countries clearly view an escalation of the Israel-Iran conflict as detrimental to their respective national interests. 

During a phone call on Thursday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock spoke with her Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian about “the tense situation in the Middle East.” Berlin’s top diplomat stressed that restraint benefited all sides in the region and beyond. 

“Avoiding further regional escalation must be in everyone’s interest. We urge all actors in the region to act responsibly and exercise maximum restraint,” Baerbock stated.

Tehran vowed “revenge” after a top Iranian Quds Force general and several other high-ranking Iranian military officials were recently killed in a Damascus strike widely attributed to Israel. Jerusalem has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the strike against the Iranian general who led the anti-Israel terror militias in Syria and Lebanon. 

Top Iranian leaders, including the country’s supreme leader, have vowed to strike Israel in retaliation. 

“The evil Zionist regime will be punished by our courageous men. We will make them regret this and other crimes like it, by God's power and strength,” Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned

Israeli leaders have threatened to respond forcefully if the Iranian regime launches an attack on Israel, especially from Iranian territory. 

“We set a simple principle: Anyone who hits us, we hit them,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Thursday during a visit to an Israeli F-15 Air Force Base. 

“We are ready to fulfill our responsibilities to Israel’s security, in defense and attack,” the prime minister stressed. 

The rising tensions between Iran and Israel are affecting commercial flights in the combustible Middle East region. The German airline company Lufthansa announced on Thursday that it would suspend its flights to the Iranian capital Tehran due to passenger security concerns. Lufthansa and its Austrian subsidiary Austrian Airlines are the only two Western airlines currently operating to and from Tehran. 

Meanwhile, Russia urged both its ally Iran and Israel to exercise “restraint.” Speaking to media reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized the importance of avoiding further destabilization of the Middle East, which has become a tinderbox after the Iran-backed terror proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, launched a two-front aggression against Israel in early October. 

"It is very important for everybody to exercise restraint in order not to destabilize the region, which is already not gifted with stability or predictability," Peskov stated

Russia holds strategically important military assets in Syria, including a Mediterranean naval base for the Russian Navy that it protects. However, due to rising regional tensions, the Russian Foreign Ministry urged its citizens on Thursday to avoid traveling to the Middle East. Moscow has especially cautioned its citizens against non-essential travel to Israel, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. 

U.S. intelligence sources believe an Iranian attack on Israel is “imminent” and Tehran would likely carry out its attack within the next 24 to 48 hours. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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