Tuesday, April 08, 2008

War of words

From DEBKAfile, April 7, 2008, 3:56 PM (GMT+02:00):

Israeli minister hurls unprecedented threat at Iran

National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Monday, April 7: “An Iranian strike on Israel would result in an Israeli response that would devastate the Iranian nation.” On a visit to the national defense exercise’s situation room, Ben-Eliezer also warned: “An Initial strike on Israel would see hundreds of missiles hit us… all of Israel will be within range of Syrian and Hizballah missiles.”

...In all of its 60 years, no Israeli leader has ever threatened to destroy another nation, however belligerent - even when Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel should be “wiped off the map.”

His words directly contradict the soothing statements made by prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak that the defense exercise is in no way intended as a threat or an escalation of war tensions. The minister’s wild rhetoric, apparently off the top of his head, could be interpreted as a threat of Israeli nuclear retaliation to a potential Iranian attack.

Ben Eliezer continued in slightly more measured tones when he said: The Iranians won’t be rushing to attack Israel because they are well aware of our strength, but they bait us by providing weapons to Syria and Hizballah, which we need to deal with.”....
...and from THE JERUSALEM POST, Apr. 7, 2008, by yaakov katz and gil hoffman:

Israel is not interested in an escalation with its neighbors, Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared Monday, as a fellow cabinet minister threatened to destroy Iran if Israel is attacked by the Islamic Republic.

...As Barak tried to reduce tensions between Israel and its neighbors, National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said ...that Israel would destroy Iran if it was attacked first. "An Iranian attack will prompt a severe reaction from Israel, which will destroy the Iranian nation," Ben-Eliezer said. Teheran, he added, "is definitely aware of our strength. Even so, they are teasing us with their alliances with Syria and Hizbullah, and supplying them with many weapons, and we have to deal with that."

A minister criticized National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer for threatening Iran, saying that what Ben-Eliezer said was "unnecessary and harmful."

According to the minister, "the reality in the future is likely to be many times more severe than that with which we are familiar. We are facing a reality in which the home front will become the battlefield." ...

...Ben-Eliezer [said]..."In a future war, it will be much safer to live in Nahariya or Shlomi than in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Because I foresee that during the opening blow, hundreds of missiles will rain on Israel. No place in the country will be outside the range of Syria and Hizbullah's missiles and rockets." ...

...and from DEBKAfile April 7, 2008, 10:43 PM (GMT+02:00):

Ahmadinejad to respond to Israeli minister's threat on Iranian Atom Day

Iranian sources report that Tehran’s response to Israeli Infrastructure minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer’s warning that a Tehran attack on Israel would call forth a response that “will devastate Iran” is expected to be incorporated in president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech Tuesday [8 April 2008] on the occasion of Iranian Atom Day.

Israeli intelligence sources were highly critical of the remarks the minister made during a visit to the national defense exercise’s situation room Monday, April 7. They say he should have known better than to provide easy propaganda fodder for Tehran’s Atom Day celebrations. He handed Iranian leaders an opening for their claim that Israel’s defense exercise was part of the Jewish state’s plans for a nuclear attack on their country, thus diverting international opprobrium away from their own covert nuclear plans....

.... The military situation in the region is fraught enough, the sources said, and there was no need to add fuel to the fire.

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