Israel will strike the Iranian capital of Tehran if Iran provokes Tel Aviv, the country’s defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has warned.
Lieberman’s threats come as the two countries confront each other over the Syrian crisis.
Express.co.uk reports Mr Lieberman told the London-based, Saudi-owned news website Elaph: ”Israel doesn’t want war but if Iran attacks Tel Aviv, we will hit Tehran.”
Coastal Tel Aviv is Israel’s commercial capital, where its military is headquartered.
An Israeli-Iranian showdown has been looming since February 10, when Israel said an armed drone which was sent from a Syrian base penetrated its air space.
Israel destroyed the drone and carried out a raid on Syrian air defences in which one of its F-16 jets was downed.
On April 9, an air strike killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps members at the Syrian base.
Tehran blamed Israel and vowed unspecified retaliation, which in turn drew Israeli counter-threats to broaden attacks on Iranian military assets in Syria.
The Israelis say their strikes are aimed at preventing Iran’s garrison in Syria from entrenching itself deeper in support of President Bashar al-Assad and linking with Hezbollah in Lebanon to form a broad front against them.
Mr Lieberman added: ”Every outpost in which we see Iran positioning militarily in Syria, we will destroy, and we will not allow this no matter what the price.”
Iran, which does not recognise Israel’s right to exist, has frequently issued threat to strike the city.
The two countries have been at loggerheads for decades, and have effectively been fighting a proxy war since the mid-2000s.
Earlier this year, Israel for the first time admitted that it bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007.
Intelligence minister, Israel Katz, tweeted: “The 2007 operation and its success made clear that Israel will never allow nuclear weaponry to be in the hands of those who threaten its existence – Syria then, and Iran today.”
Tensions have been further stoked since the election of US President Donald Trump, who is threatening to pull the plug on a deal brokered by predecessor Barack Obama whereby Iran agreed to limitations on its nuclear energy programme in return for the lifting of some economic sanctions.
Mr Trump claims the deal is too lenient and that Iran has already broken some aspects of the deal.
Critics fear Iran wants to use its nuclear power industry to develop nuclear weapons.
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