Culture minister slams Israel's 'weak' reaction to Iran attack

Culture minister slams Israel's 'weak' reaction to Iran attack
Israel and its allies were faced with a barrage of Iranian rockets and drones overnight Saturday-Sunday. It was an unprecedented move by Tehran.
3 min read
15 April, 2024
Zohar (C) said Israel had 'international legitimacy' now to strike back at Iran with full force [Getty]

Israel’s culture and sports minister slammed Tel Aviv's "weak" response to Iran’s unprecedented weekend attack, urging Israel to "fight back".

"A weak response to the unprecedented Iranian aggression is the continuation of the outdated concept of reasonable logic in the face of brutal terrorists," Miki Zohar said, as quoted by Israeli media.

"It failed against Hamas and we got the 7th of October [attack], it failed against Hezbollah which attacks us continuously and led to the evacuation of the residents of the north, and it will fail against Iran which did not hesitate to attack Israel directly," he added.

Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles overnight Saturday-Sunday on Israel in retaliation to a deadly Israeli airstrike on Tehran’s consulate in Damascus.

The April 1 attack, for which Israel has not claimed responsibility, levelled the building and killed several officers, including two top commanders, the worst attack since the US assassination of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani at the start of 2020.

Iran-backed Shia factions including the Lebanese Hezbollah and Yemeni Houthi groups took part in the retaliatory strikes on Israel, while the US, UK, and France helped intercept the projectiles.

The Iranian attack brought the years-long war between Tehran and Tel Aviv out of the shadows and into a direct confrontation for the first time, as world powers rushed to call for de-escalation.

Zohar said Israel now had "broad international legitimacy tonight to strike Iran with unprecedented force", and urged a response "against the head of the snake that is working to destroy Israel."

Reports circulated late on Sunday that the Israeli war cabinet was undecided on a response against Iran.

US President Joe Biden informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington would not take part in a counter-strike against the Islamic Republic, the White House said on Sunday.

Gaza war spillover

In his comments, Zohar also referred to the Hamas-led October 7 attack in southern Israel which sparked the current war on Gaza.

Israel’s air and ground offensive on the besieged enclave has since killed at least 33,700 people, mostly women and children.

Shortly after the start of the Gaza war, Hezbollah – largely in control over south Lebanon and other parts of the country – also began firing rockets into Israel, which the powerful group says is to draw some of Israel’s military attention away from Gaza.

Tens of thousands of northern Israel’s residents have had to flee their towns and settlements, an issue which has exerted more pressure on Netanyahu’s government.

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Israel has for months warned it will take military action to force Hezbollah away from the border if diplomatic mediation with Beirut fails, hinting at a possible ground invasion of Lebanon.

In support of the Palestinians, Yemen’s Houthi movement has also launched missile and drone attacks on Israeli-linked ships or vessels heading to Israel’s ports in and around the Red Sea.

The group says the aim of these attacks, ongoing since November, is to exert pressure on Israel and the international community for a ceasefire in Gaza.

A US-led maritime task force to halt the attacks has largely failed, and ships have been forced to take much longer, thus more costly routes to avoid the volatile region.