Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (Courtesy Haaretz)
JERUSALEM – Israel will “destroy” Iran if Tehran decided to launch a war against the Jewish state, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said today.
The unusually harsh warning from Ben-Eliezer, a former defense minister, was delivered as the official visited his ministry’s war room, which took part today in a massive, nationwide, weeklong drill that is set to include simulated chemical missile attacks on central Israel.
“The Iranians won’t rush to attack Israel, because they understand the significance such action would have and are well aware of our strength,” Ben-Eliezer told reporters. “However, Iran continues to aggravate the situation by supplying arms to Syria and Hezbollah, and we must deal with this.”
The minister said this week’s war drill “is not a meaningless spectacle or a fictional scenario. The future reality is likely to be a number of times harsher than that which we recognize now. We are confronted with a situation where the home front becomes the front line.”
“In a future war, it will be much safer to live in (the northern towns of) Nahariya and Shlomi instead of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, since I expect that in the opening attack hundreds of missiles will strike Israel,” Eliezer said. “There will be no place in the country which is not within range of Syria and Hezbollah’s rockets.”
Israel’s current war drill is the country’s largest-ever. It aims to prepare the public and government and army institutions for the possibility of a future war. The drills reportedly include testing of missile alert sirens, Israel Defense Force war simulations, Homefront Command, police and emergency services responses and drills in hospitals and emergency centers.
As part of the drill, Israel will simulate a massive missile bombardment, including a chemical missile attack.
The drill and Ben-Eliezer’s warning come as Syria, Lebanon and Israel increased their alertness along a joint border zone amid a possible breakout of hostilities.
The countries are preparing for the possibility of Hezbollah attacking Israel in retaliation for the assassination of arch-Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in a car bomb in Syria in February.
According to Israeli security officials, Israel has warned Syria, which sends Iranian weapons to Hezbollah, that Damascus would be held accountable for any Hezbollah attack on Israeli soil.
Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Dan Harel warned last week Israel will “respond with a heavy hand” against anyone trying to target Israel.
Touring Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and Syria, Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated last week Israel is the most powerful country in the Middle East and warned against challenging it.
Barak was to travel last week to Berlin for strategic talks about the Middle East but postponed the trip due to tensions with Syria, his aides said.
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