Israel is preparing offensive options against Iran, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday amid rising tensions between the two countries since May.
Gantz, who warned Iran the previous day on what Israeli officials say are threats of Tehran-organized attacks on their citizens in Turkey and in the Persian Gulf Arab countries, said the offensive plans are being prepared in case they are needed.
“We aren’t able to personally protect every Israeli anywhere in the world,” Gantz said, perhaps emphasizing the deterrent aspect of his threat directed at Iran.
“We are in contact with the relevant Turkish authorities, and we are of course mainly preparing offensive capabilities, if and when they are needed,” he said. “I suggest that the Iranians not test these capabilities.”
Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennet also warned Iran against any threats to Israeli citizens in regional countries.
“We are currently witnessing Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in various overseas locations,” Bennett said in remarks at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
“Our new rule: Whoever sends, pays,” Bennett warned according to an English-language statement of his remarks provided by his office quoted by Times of Israel. “We will continue to strike those who send the terrorists, and those who send those who send them.”
Parallel with the prime minister’s and defense minister’s warnings on Sunday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s office announced that he will visit Turkey this week.
Israeli sources have been warning about possible attacks on tourists visiting Turkey for three weeks but calls for travelers to be extremely cautious increased last week, with fresh concerns over possible attacks on Israelis in the United Arab Emirates.
Tehran has vowed to take revenge after a top Quds Force commander was gunned down in broad daylight in in Iran on May 22. Other deaths of people connected with the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) followed, although Tehran tried to portray their deaths for reasons other than any foreign plot. But the perception that Israeli secret agencies are operating freely in Iran and have been inflicting damage since mid-2020 is widespread among the people.
This could be potentially costly for the IRGC and the regime in political terms as it loses the aura of omnipotence it has been trying to portray within the country.
Alleged Israeli operations in Iran started when Tehran ratcheted up its nuclear program in 2019, once the US withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement and imposed sanctions on Iran in 2018.
Specially since the Biden administration started talks with Iran last year to reach a new nuclear deal, Israel has repeatedly said that it will not tolerate a nuclear Iran and has clearly indicated military preparation. The issue of threats to Israeli tourists in Turkey is the manifestation of the long-existing tensions as Israel has been preparing for a possible confrontation with Iran.
Iran International reported on June 18 that some political analysts in Iran also believe that the clerical regime is moving toward a confrontation in the region, with not agreeing to a nuclear deal after more than a year of indirect talks with the United States.