Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Iran: 'We'll Choose Time And Place' To Strike Back At Israel, Liberman Heads To DC For Talks With Senior U.S. Officials On Iran, Syria

Top Iranian official: We'll 'choose time and place' to strike back at Israel

The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said Tuesday that Tehran “will choose the time and place” to mete out its “inevitable” response for a deadly strike on an Iranian base in Syria that has been attributed to Israel.
Speaking to reporters before he traveled to Russia, Ali Shamkhani was asked about the airstrike earlier this month that reportedly hit Iranian military equipment at the airbase, killing 14 people including at least seven members of the Revolutionary Guards. The head of its drone program, Col. Mehdi Dehghan, was among the fatalities.
“The response is inevitable, but Iran will choose the time and the place” to respond to “the attack on the T-4 base, in which several Iranian citizens were killed,” Shamkhani told journalists.

“The entity that gives itself the right to attack the sovereignty of another country and to target forces fighting terrorism must certainly have thought about the results and consequences of that attack and the corresponding reaction,” he added.

Iran, Syria, Russia, and some US officials have all said that Israel was responsible for the strike on the base, also known as T-4. Israel has not commented.
This was the second time the T-4 base was attacked. Israel acknowledged hitting the base in February after Iran flew an explosive-laden drone into Israel. Israel says the drone was launched from the base. At the time, the Israel Defense Force said it bombed “four Iranian targets that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman took off for the United States on Tuesday night to meet top American defense officials for talks on Iran and Syria, his office said.
Liberman was scheduled to meet US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and newly named National Security Adviser John Bolton, as well as members of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, which has considerable power over the US military.
According to the defense minister, his meetings will “focus on Iran’s expansion throughout the Middle East and on the Syria issue,” as well as Israeli-American security cooperation.

“I will also take advantage of the opportunity to thank our American friends for transferring the embassy to Jerusalem — the perfect gift for the 70th anniversary celebrations,” Liberman wrote in a tweet.
Liberman’s office would not say when he was expected to return to Israel.
The defense minister’s visit to Washington comes during a period of particularly heightened tensions between Iran, Israel, and the US.
Iran, which has called for the destruction of the Jewish state, is considered Israel’s primary nemesis, funding terrorist groups that carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and troops. Israel, therefore, has designated Iranian entrenchment in Syria as unacceptable, something it will work to prevent militarily if necessary.
Over the past two weeks, Israeli and Iranian officials have swapped increasingly bellicose threats, following an airstrike on an alleged Iranian drone facility located on a Syrian air base on April 9. Iran, Russia, and Syria have all claimed Israel was behind the attack. Israel refuses to comment on the strike.

The Trump administration’s Mideast envoy Jason Greeblatt lambasted the Palestinians before a Jewish audience on Tuesday, casting both Hamas’s “hostile actions” at the Israel-Gaza border and the Palestinian Authority’s support terrorism as detrimental to peacemaking efforts.
“You can’t make peace in an environment where violence is practiced and celebrated,” he said to an American Jewish Committee luncheon reception in New York.
Over the last month, tens of thousands of Gazans, with the encouragement of the Hamas terror group that rules Gaza, have been undertaking weekly protests at the border. Some rioters have tried to damage and break the security fence and infiltrate Israel, while others have thrown petrol bombs and rocks, and burned tires.

The Israel Defense Forces has so far killed at least 40  Palestinians in the border clashes, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. Israel does not confirm the numbers.
In his remarks, Greenblatt firmly blamed Hamas for the chaos and violence that has ensued. He did not direct any criticism toward Israel, which much of the international community claims has responded excessively to the protests.
“Astoundingly, Hamas, the de-facto administrator of Gaza, can find no better use for its money than violence,” Greenblatt said. He also said Hamas could serve its people better by spending that money by “addressing the dire situation in Gaza, where unemployment is high, electricity service is sporadic, and sewage is flowing.”
He also castigated certain elements of Fatah’s rule over the West Bank.
The former Trump Organization lawyer said the Taylor Force Act, which Trump signed into law last month, “dramatically reduces US funds to the Palestinian Authority until they stop the abhorrent practice of paying stipends to terrorists and their families.”
The legislation is named after a former US army officer who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Tel Aviv.
Beyond passage of that bill, Greenblatt extolled the ties between Washington and Jerusalem under the current president.
“The revitalization of US-Israel relations culminated in President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” he said.
Last December, Trump announced the recognition and his plans to eventually move the US embassy to the holy city, which will open in May.

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