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Gantz: The world must act against Iranian aggression immediately

CM 02/08/2021

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Israel will retaliate against anyone who seeks to harm the Jewish State “in the time and place and way” of its choosing, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Monday.
Warning that Israel has a “variety of tools and options” to protect its citizens, Gantz stressed that Israel will make Iran pay for the deadly drone attack that hit the Mercer Street near the shores of Oman and killed two people.
“This is not just an Israeli matter. The whole world sees the results of Iran’s aggression and must take action. Any agreement with Iran must also address its aggression in the region and its harm both to innocent people and to the global economy,” he said.
Though Iran has denied being behind the attack on the Israeli-managed ship on which a Romanian and British national were killed, an Iranian official was quoted by Nour News as saying that Tehran would respond to any retaliation.

“Although the Islamic Republic of Iran considers the threats of Western officials and those of the Zionist regime as propaganda, any move against the interests and national security of Iran will face a tough and firm response, and Washington and London will be directly responsible for its consequences,” an Iranian official said Monday.
Gantz asserted that Iranian maritime aggression has gotten worse, and that the Islamic Republic has attacked five international ships in the past year.
The deadly attack against the Mercer Street “that resulted in the murder of two civilians, is a clear violation of international law. It is immoral and it constitutes an escalation” by Iran, he added.
Warning that the threat posed by Iran is “not a future threat but a tangible and immediate one,” Gantz vowed that Israel will work to remove any threat against Israeli citizens and interests.
“Iran, under the murderous [President-elect Ebrahim] Raisi, who will take office this week, will be more dangerous to the world than it has been so far, more destructive to the region than it has been so far, and will strive to become an existential threat to Israel. We will work to remove any such threat,” he said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that “Iran should face up to the consequences of what they’ve done.”
“This was clearly an unacceptable and outrageous attack on commercial shipping. A UK national died. It is absolutely vital that Iran and every other country, respects the freedoms of navigation around the world and the UK will continue to insist on that,” Johnson added.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted that Johnson “is right. Iran must bear the consequences.”
On Sunday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said they are certain Iran was behind Friday’s attack on the vessel. 
Bennett contrasted the US and UK response to the Iranian attack, which has been in line with Israel’s thus far, with the diplomatic situation under former premier Benjamin Netanyahu, in remarks to the Knesset on Monday.
“Look at what happened this weekend, with an international campaign, suddenly the US and Britain stand with us,” Bennett said. “To go and fight with them, when Iran is running forward [with its nuclear program] is irresponsibility at a national level. That is the legacy [Netanyahu is] leaving and we will fix it.”
UK Minister for the Middle East James Cleverly summoned Iran’s Ambassador in London Mohsen Baharvand over the attack on the Mercer Street, and “reiterated that Iran must immediately cease actions that risk international peace and security, and reinforced that vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law,” the Foreign Office stated.
Romania summoned Iran’s ambassador, as well.
Iran summoned the British and Romanian ambassadors in response.
Earlier, Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu joined the US and UK in saying that Bucharest will work with international partners on a response to the Iranian attack.
“Based on [the] available info, Romania strongly condemns [the] Iranian drone attack against Mercer Street, during which a [Romanian] citizen was killed,” Aurescu tweeted. “There is no justification whatsoever for deliberately attacking civilians.”
A team from the UK is expected to arrive in the Gulf in the coming days to investigate the attack, UK Deputy Ambassador to Israel Mark Power told KAN.
The Mercer Street is Liberian-flagged and Japanese-owned, but managed by Israeli company Zodiac Maritime.
Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported that “the Israeli army has drawn up a list of Iranian targets to respond to the attack on a tanker off the coast of Oman.”
The article was headlined with claims the US and UK have “greenlit” an Israeli response to the attack.  
The paper, which in the past has also claimed to have sources revealing Iranian attacks and Israeli responses, says that there are accelerated contacts between Israel the US. The report said the attack on the ship off Oman will not go unnoticed and that Israel will “deal a painful blow” in response. The article “stresses that Britain, whose nationals were killed in the attack, and the United States gave a green light to respond.” 
The paper claims that the retaliation could be against several key targets such as the port of Bandar Abbas, or “destruction of ships near Iranian shores, and the last of which is the targeting of an Iranian warship, from which it is believed that the ‘drones’ launched the attack.”
Seth Frantzman contributed to this report.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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