Israel is gearing up for an anticipated Iranian attack near the one-year mark since the assassination of Qassem Soleimani that took place on January 3, 2020, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman told the Saudi news website Elaph.
In an interview published on Friday, Zilberman said that the attack is likely to be orchestrated by Iraq and Yemen. He referred to the two countries as “Iran’s second circle” after Lebanon and Syria in its proxy conflict with Israel. Zilberman also said that Israel has been monitoring the situation in both countries closely and is well prepared to deal with any sudden aggression.
“We have information that Iran is developing drones and smart missiles that can reach Israel,” he told the Saudi Website.
He pointed out that Iran had previously attacked Saudi Aramco facilities in September 2019 from Yemen, Iraq, and Iranian territory using dozens of drones and remote-guided missiles, without discovery, saying that “this indicates a great Iranian ability in this field.”
Addressing the issue of an Israeli Navy submarine being spotted in the Suez Canal earlier this week, Zilberman said he could not confirm the report. However, he did say that ISIS was operating freely in the Middle East and that Israeli submarines were sailing in “different places, far and near.”
Zilberman described the Iranian threat as a “powder keg liable to explode,” because of the many blows Iran has received in 2020 without being able to respond properly. In addition to Qassem Soleimani’s assassination, Iran also had to cope with the assassination of its top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Explosions in several of its nuclear facilities, international sanctions and the novel coronavirus pandemic, have all had a devastating effect on the country.
In the interview Zilberman called 2020 a year of “security par excellence for the State of Israel.” He noted that the Jewish state has proven its ability to carry out targeted and smart operations, considering that the IDF has led more operations in the past year than usual and has received close to no response.
Zilberman added that Israel has no intention of stopping its efforts of preventing Iran from taking hold of areas in Syria and Lebanon. This shows that the extended array of anti-aircraft systems deployed in Syria is no obstacle for the IDF.
Zilberman’s interview comes days after IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi addressed the Iranian threat during a ceremony for exemplary soldiers on Monday. Kochavi pledged that Iran will pay a heavy price if any Israeli is targeted.
“We are hearing more and more threats against Israel coming from Iran,” he said. “If Iran and its partners attack the State of Israel, they will pay a heavy price… I am simplifying things and describing the situation to our enemies as it is,” he added. “Our retaliation plans are prepared, and they have been practiced.”
“Any calculations known to us today could change for an unknown reason,” Zilberman told Elaph when asked about a looming war in the region.