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Netanyahu issues barely-veiled warning to Iran ahead of Tehran’s expected strike on Israel

'Anyone who hits us, we hit them,' the Israeli prime minister told Air Force pilots

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Tel Nof Air Base, April 11, 2024. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

During a visit to an Israeli F-15 Air Force base on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin repeated a thinly disguised warning to the Iranian regime ahead of an anticipated strike on Israel.

“We set a simple principle: Anyone who hits us, we hit them,” Netanyahu told the Israeli Air Force (IAF) pilots, in a likely reference to the Iranian threat to hit Israel. “We are ready to fulfill our responsibilities to Israel’s security, in defense and attack,” he added.

Netanyahu framed the looming threat of Iran within the wider context of Israel facing military conflicts across multiple fronts from Iranian-backed terror proxies such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Hezbollah, and the Houthis.

“We are in challenging times. We are in the midst of a war in Gaza that is continuing with full force. In addition, we are continuing with ceaseless efforts to return our hostages, but we are also preparing for challenges from other fronts,” the prime minister stated.

The Iranian regime has vowed “revenge” after General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a top Iranian Quds Force general, his deputy and several other high-ranking Iranian military officials were killed on April 1. The strike, largely attributed to Israel, targeted a building adjacent to the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria.

Zahedi was reportedly the highest-ranking Iranian military official in Syria and was in charge of anti-Israel terror militias in Syria and Lebanon. At the time of the strike, Zahedi had allegedly held talks with senior PIJ leaders and a Hamas ally who took part in the Oct. 7 massacre.

Israeli Defense Forces has neither denied nor assumed responsibility for the Damascus strike, following its long-established policy of not publicly confirming or denying involvement in military operations targeting Iranian-affiliated groups or assets in Syria.

On the northern front, Iran’s main terror proxy, Hezbollah in Lebanon, has launched repeated attacks on northern Israel since Oct. 8, effectively displacing about 80,000 Israelis from their homes without a clear timeline for when they can safely return due to ongoing security concerns.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, explicitly threatened the State of Israel recently.

“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,” Khamenei stated.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant recently responded by threatening that Israel would strike Iran with a powerful response if the Tehran regime launched an attack against Israel from its territory.

“If Iran attacks from its territory – Israel will respond and attack in Iran,” Katz wrote on 𝕏 in Persian, while tagging the Iranian supreme leader’s account.

Gallant also warned the Iranian regime, saying: “The enemy has been severely damaged in all places and therefore is looking for ways to respond - we are prepared with multi-layered defense.”

U.S. intelligence sources have warned that an Iranian attack on Israel is “imminent,” adding that it “is seen as more a matter of when, not if,” according to a Bloomberg report.

On Thursday, the commander of the U.S. forces in the Middle East, CENTCOM Commander Erik Kurilla arrived in Israel ahead of an expected Iranian strike. Kurilla’s visit is reportedly part of a wider American Israeli joint effort to coordinate a potential response if Iran launches an attack.

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

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