Just in: Israel puts military on alert after U.S. killing of Iranian commander
Israel has put its military on heightened alert on Friday following the U . S. killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani .
Israel , America ’ s closest ally in the Middle East and Iran’ s top regional foe , has not publicly responded to the death of Quds Force chief Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al -Muhandis in the U . S. air strike in Baghdad.
However , the office of Israel ’ s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that he would return home early from Greece .
Israel ’ s Army Radio said the military was on heightened alert and Defence Minister Naftali Bennett met military and intelligence chiefs for a “situational assessment ”.
Members of Netanyahu ’ s security cabinet have been asked not to comment on the high -profile killings, which Israeli media interpreted as a bid to stave off retaliation from Iran’ s proxies and allies in the region.
These include the Tehran -backed Lebanese movement Hezbollah , and the Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza .
When asked about the commanders ’ deaths, Tzachi Hanegbi , Israel ’ s deputy foreign minister , said the cabinet “received an instruction not to be interviewed on this subject. ”
In the same development , Yair Lapid , an opposition lawmaker, has congratulated U . S. President Donald Trump on Twitter for killing those responsible for “murderous terrorist acts from Damascus to Buenos Aires ” and that Soleimani ’ s “blood is forfeit”.
The Israeli Military spokesman , Avichay Adraee , said the Mount Hermon ski resort, in the Israeli -occupied Golan Heights close to the fortified frontier with Syria , had been closed “following an assessment of the situation ”.
“There are no further instructions to the residents of the Golan Heights area and routine activities continue as normal , ” he added .
Israel has long regarded Soleimani as a major threat .
In August 2018, the military said it had foiled a Quds Force attack , administered by Soleimani , involving multiple drones from Syria .
And Israel accused him of leading Quds Force efforts to establish a precision -guided missiles program for Hezbollah .
In Gaza , Hamas, which has long enjoyed financial and military support from Tehran , condemned Soleimani ’ s killing and sent its “dearest condolences ” to Iran.
Gaza -based Hamas official Bassem Naim wrote on Twitter that the assassination “opens the doors of the region to all possibilities, except calm & stability . USA bears the responsibility for that . ”
The Iranian -backed Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad , also based in Gaza , praised Soleimani as a leader “who always brought horror into the hearts of America and Israel ”.
“The alliance of resistance will not be defeated , will not be broken and its integrity will become stronger in confronting the Zionist -American project , ” Abu Hamza , a spokesman for Islamic Jihad , said on Twitter .
( Reuters / NAN )