Middle East Monitor / October 24, 2019
Israeli Army radio station revealed that Tel Aviv is preparing for a direct Iranian attack by a cruise missile or a drone in response to the recent Israeli attacks on Iranian-backed armed groups in the region that were attributed to the occupying state.
Unlike ballistic missiles, which typically fly through a high arc on their way to the target, cruise missiles and drones fly at low altitudes, making them difficult to be detected, revealed the radio station in a report.
The report quoted unidentified Israeli sources as saying that the Israeli army has already been highly alerted and that the security cabinet would hold an “unplanned” meeting next Tuesday on the backdrop of tensions with Tehran.
It is the second time this month that the cabinet will hold a high-level meeting. The first meeting was held on 6 October, amid vague warnings by Israeli leaders of a growing security threat from Iran, and lasted for nearly six hours.
During the meeting, the ministers discussed a proposal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a 1-billion shekel ($ 290 million) project to strengthen Israel’s air defences, which will specifically focus on defending the country against cruise missile attacks.
Channel 12 quoted at the time unnamed officials as saying they believed Tehran might have spread information about a foiled Israeli-Arab plot to assassinate General Qasim Soleimani, commander of Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as a pretext for an attack on Israel.
Both Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin had pointed to critical security needs in recent days when they called for the formation of an expanded unity government after the 17 September elections.
Iran appears to have been developing its activities and drone attacks in recent months. In August, Israeli fighter jets launched airstrikes in Syria to thwart a planned attack on Israel by Iranian-backed fighters using armed drones, the Israeli army said. The military said its bombing targeted fighters of the IRGC’s Quds Force and Shiite militias who were planning to fire booby-trapped attack drones to Israel.
In September, a missile and drones attack on Saudi oil facilities halved the kingdom’s oil production.
Although the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack, the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Saudi Arabia held Iran responsible for the attack.
Channel 12 reported that military officials who evaluated the weapons used in the attack on Saudi oil facilities concluded that it is likely that Iran will launch a similar attack on Israel. If that happens, the offensive will be initiated from the west of Iraq, where there is a strong presence of Iran-backed militias.
Israel has vowed to prevent Iranian-backed militias in the region from acquiring sophisticated weapons to be used against the Jewish state and has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria, which it says were aimed at preventing arms deliveries and halting Iranian military espionage in there.
Late last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi indicated that investigations had concluded that Israel was behind a series of recent airstrikes against powerful Iran-backed militias in Iraq.
An Israeli army spokeswoman refused to comment on the Iraqi Prime Minister’s statements, saying only: “These statements came from foreign media and we will not comment on them.”
Since July, at least nine raids have been launched inside Iraq and across the border in Syria, targeting Iran-backed militias, collectively known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
The leaders of the paramilitary group repeatedly held Israel and its ally the United States, which has more than 5000 troops in Iraq, responsible for the attacks.
Israeli authorities have not confirmed that Israel was behind the attacks. However, Netanyahu has hinted at the possibility of raids launched by Israel in Iraq.
Earlier this month, a senior Iranian official blamed Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia for an alleged attack on an oil tanker off the Saudi coast and said he would file a complaint with the United Nations.
Tehran said the oil tanker Spiti, which hoisted the Iranian flag, was hit by two separate blasts off the Jeddah Islamic Port on the Red Sea coast.
Hassan Biji, a member of Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, conveyed that the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia are pretending that Daesh or Taliban were behind the alleged attack on the Iranian oil tanker last week off the coast of Saudi Arabia, and said he would file a complaint to the United Nations.