(Bloomberg) — Israel is prepared to attack Iran, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, as his country lobbied for a response to a fatal drone attack on an Israeli-operated oil tanker that it blamed on the Islamic Republic.
Asked in an interview broadcast on a local media website whether Israel is prepared to assault Iran, Gantz gave a one-word answer: “‘Yes.”
Pressed on whether he sought military action against Iran now, Gantz replied: “We must not see Iran only as Israel’s problem and exempt the rest of the world.” Pushed further on whether that confrontation should be military, he said, “Yes, yes,” and added, “and Israel has to do its part.”
The defense minister also replied in the affirmative when asked whether Israel’s military is ready for a multifront conflict that might include Iran.
The United Nations Security Council will discuss the tanker attack behind closed doors on Friday, according to diplomats who asked not to be identified in advance of the session. The U.K. sent a letter to the council this week that it was “highly likely” that the tanker was attacked by Iran, and the U.S. urged the council to debate the attack.
Israel has said frequently that it is ready to take military action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but Gantz’s comments come at a time of raised tensions in the region over attacks at sea. Israel says it’s given allies “hard evidence” that the Islamic Republic was behind last week’s deadly drone attack off the coast of Oman, and early this week the U.K. Navy reported a suspected ship hijacking in waters near Iran.
The U.S., U.K. and Israel have all said they’d respond to the tanker attack. Tehran denies involvement in either of the incidents, which are the latest in a years-long shadow war being waged on Middle East waterways crucial to oil exports.
Frictions involving Iran have coincided with the installation of an ultraconservative new president, and cloud prospects for talks with world powers over reviving the frayed 2015 nuclear deal that Israel opposes.
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