- First meeting between British PM May and Netanyahu
- Iranian official threatens Tel Aviv, U.S. military base
- IDF hits Hamas targets in response to rocket launch
- Israel offers support to Gazans as part of exchange
“Iran seeks to annihilate Israel. It says so openly. It seeks to conquer the Middle East. It threatens Europe; it threatens the West; it threatens the world,” declared Prime Minister Netanyahu. “I’d like to talk to you on how we can ensure that Iran’s aggression does not go unanswered,” he said to May. May’s spokeswoman said the countries “share concerns” about a recent Iranian missile test.
The leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia are poised to usher in a new era of pro-Israel relations, according to a Times of Israel piece published last month. Their strong support veers on “unconditional,” the author wrote.
“We do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally,” a spokesperson for May said in response to former Secretary of State John Kerry’s December speech, which was largely panned as anti-Israel and a step backwards for the peace process. The settlements “are far from the only problem in this conflict. In particular, the people of Israel deserve to live free from the threat of terrorism, with which they have had to cope for too long.”
Hajizadeh made the remark at military exercises held on Saturday in north-central Iran, the purpose of which, according to the IRGC’s website, were to “showcase the power of Iran’s revolution and to dismiss the sanctions” that were put in place by the U.S. last Friday in retaliation for an Iranian ballistic missile test late last month.
UN Security Council Resolution 2231 codifies the nuclear deal and calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” The resolution also says that Iran must abide by previous Security Council resolutions, which placed restrictions on ballistic missile work until 2023.
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said over the weekend that Iran is “the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in London for a state visit with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, said, “My policy is to respond strongly to any rocket fire.” The IDF said, “The IDF will continue working with determination at all times to preserve the security of the State of Israel.”
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said on Twitter that there were no Palestinian injuries from the strikes. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the original rocket into Israel, but the Jewish state holds Hamas, the terror group that has ruled the Strip since it took over in a coup nearly ten years ago, responsible for all outgoing rocket fire.
The IDF believes that Hamas has fully rebuilt many of the military capabilities that Israel destroyed during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. The terror group claimed in its annual end-of-year report that it killed 17 Israelis and wounded 437 more in 2016. The IDF said in December that Hamas is intensifying efforts to surveil Israeli communities by the Gaza border, which the military believes will be targeted for kidnapping attacks in the event of a future conflict.
One possible step is the establishment of an industrial zone close to the border fence between Israel and Gaza, in which all of the workers would be Palestinians. Another is allowing the entry of Palestinian workers into Israel via the Erez pedestrian crossing in northern Gaza. Together, the two projects would provide employment to thousands of Gazans who qualify for the appropriate security clearance.
Other areas with room for improvement include the electricity crisis in Gaza and establishing a free-trade zone in the northern Sinai Peninsula in Egyptian territory, which Israel supports based on the assumption that such a project would improve the economic situation not only in northern Sinai but also in the Gaza Strip.