Israel Appears To Intensify Its Campaign Against Iranian Forces

Aug 26, 2019
Originally published on August 26, 2019 10:09 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

Israel appears to be intensifying its campaign against Iranian forces and their allies across the Middle East. This weekend, Israel carried out an air strike in Syria, and it reportedly also hit sites in Lebanon and Iraq. As NPR's Daniel Estrin reports from Jerusalem, all of this has sparked threats of retaliation and war.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: It was a tense weekend on multiple fronts. On Saturday, according to Israel, Iranian forces and allies in Syria were about to launch armed drones to attack Israel. Israeli fighter jets struck first. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he supported the Israeli strike, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invoked a Talmudic expression as justification.

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PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: (Foreign language spoken).

ESTRIN: "If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first," he said. Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria aren't anything new. Israel sees Iranian forces helping the regime in Syria as a direct threat and has attacked them over the last few years. What is new is that Israel is increasingly acknowledging the attacks, and Netanyahu has suggested the campaign is wider than just Syria.

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NETANYAHU: (Through interpreter) Any country that allows its territory to be used for aggression against Israel will face the consequences, and, I repeat, the country will face the consequences.

ESTRIN: The attack in Syria this weekend killed two fighters with one of Israel's biggest foes, Hezbollah. Hours later, Hezbollah said Israeli drones fell close to one of the group's buildings in Beirut. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the Israeli army should be ready for an imminent response.

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HASSAN NASRALLAH: (Foreign language spoken).

ESTRIN: He said, "one, two, three, four days - wait for us." Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006, and since then Israel has tried to prevent Iran from transferring missiles to Hezbollah. Now the Israeli army says it's on high alert for possible retaliation. Also this weekend, Israel did not acknowledge but was blamed for strikes on militant sites just beyond Syria's borders, in Iraq and in Lebanon. Israel was also reportedly behind an unusual strike on an Iranian arms depot in Iraq last month. In three weeks, Israelis head to elections. Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.