As the region reels from a tumultuous week of tensions between the US and Iran, new information has come to light, alleging that the sole foreign leader who knew of US President Trump’s plans to assassinate Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Reports surfaced over the weekend that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed Netanyahu on the strike ahead of time, and thanked the premiere for Israel’s role in the strike.
US media reported that the Israeli state provided key intelligence to the Americans confirming intelligence the US had received about Soleimani’s travel plans and whereabouts leading up to the strike on his convoy at the Baghdad International Airport on January 3rd.
While the rest of the world’s leaders remained in the dark about the US plans, Netanyahu spoke to reporters at the Tel Aviv airport hours before Soleimani’s vehicle was targeted by a drone strike, affirming his support for the United States’ “its full right to defend itself and its citizens.”
“We know that our region is stormy; very, very dramatic things are happening in it,” Netanyahu said. “We are alert and are monitoring the situation. We are in continuous contact with our great friend the US, including my conversation yesterday afternoon.”
On Friday, Iran reportedly warned Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that he could be the next target of the US military, according to a Channel 13 report by journalist Ronen Bergman, who co-authored the in-depth New York Times report on the past week’s tensions.
The report added that Nasrallah was instructed to beef up his security after the attack on Soleimani.
According to the Times of Israel, following the Channel 13 report, Likud Minister Yoav Gallant, a high-level Israeli security official, warned that Nasrallah “should be wary” as he is “the most prominent figure left in Middle Eastern terror,” following the US killings of Soleimani, Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, and Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi over the past few years.
By Sunday, Nasrallah had gone public with threats that any further aggression against Iran or US refusal to withdraw troops from the region would result in retaliatory attacks from Hezbollah
“If in the coming days or weeks the US doesn’t withdraw its forces from the Middle East, the American soldiers will return to the US in coffins,” Nasrallah said during a memorial ceremony for Soleimani, with whom he maintained close ties.
Nasrallah went on to say that Iran’s retaliatory strikes on the American military bases in Iraq sent a “strong message to the Zionist entity,” and that any future attacks on Iran could warrant attacks on Israel.
On Monday afternoon, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz tweeted in both Hebrew and Arabic about Nasrallah’s “attacks” on Netanyahu and threats against Israel.
نصر الله لا يتوقف عن مهاجمة نتنياهو وتهديد إسرائيل. مع تفاقم محنته، تزداد غطرسته. فهو الذي أجبر على النزول في المخبأ طابقا آخر حيال تحذيرات اسياده الإيرانيين من إمكانية تصفيته. إذا تحدى إسرائيل – فلن يساعده ذلك أيضًا.
— ישראל כ”ץ Israel Katz (@Israel_katz) January 13, 2020
“If he [Nasrallah] challenges Israel – that won’t help him either,” Katz wrote, referring to the bunker that Israel claims Nasrallah has been hiding in since 2006 out of fear of being targeted by Israel.
Over the weekend, Katz had postponed a planned visit to Dubai over alleged security concerns amid the US-Iran tensions.