Israel Raises Combat Readiness After Iran Renews Threats

2024-04-04 12:00:02

Israel raised the combat readiness of its armed forces after Iran renewed terror threats against the country. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Thursday temporarily halted the leave for combat soldiers, stating that the nation was “at war.”

“In accordance with the situational assessment, it has been decided that leave will be temporarily paused for all IDF combat units,” the military said in a press release on Thursday. “The IDF is at war and the deployment of forces is under continuous assessment according to requirements.”

The announcement comes a day after the IDF raised the number of troops manning its missile and aerial defense capabilities. The military disclosed on Wednesday that it was going to “increase manpower and draft reserve soldiers to the IDF Aerial Defense Array.”

On Wednesday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatened to ‘punish’ Israel after a series of alleged Israeli air raids in Syria and Lebanon killed several top commanders of the regime’s Islamic Guard (IRGC) terrorist group and Hezbollah operatives.

“The Zionist regime will be punished by the hands of our brave warriors,” Khamenei said in a statement. “We will make them regret this crime and the like by [Allah’s] grace.”

“Deadly attacks against Israel will be carried out soon,” the IRGC threatened, according to the Israeli news website YNET.  Similar threats were issued by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other members of the Shia-Islamic regime.

The Jerusalem Post reported the IDF’s decision to ramp up defense preparedness:

The IDF announced on Thursday it had decided to temporarily halt leave for combat units, moments before the head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, Aharon Haliva, warned Israel is facing “complex days” ahead amid increasing threats of strikes by Iran. (…)

Haliva also warned that he was “not sure that the worst is behind us.” (…)

The decisions come amid heightened tensions in Israel and increasing threats by Iran in the wake of the alleged Israeli strike in Syria, which killed senior Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

On Thursday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi spoke of the “heavy price” Israel would pay for the attack. (…)

Later on Thursday, IDF Spokesperson R.-Amd. Daniel Hagari wrote a calming message on X. “The Home Front Command’s directives remain unchanged. There is no need to buy generators, store food, and withdraw money from ATMs.”

In addition, Hagari said the military would update the public immediately should any changes to its directives ensue.

In a statement made to the press later on Thursday, Hagari appeared to warn Iran, stating that the Israeli military “strengthened the preparedness of our combat units…the planes are ready to strike.

“The Israeli military is prepared for all scenarios,” Hagari reassured.

Since October 7, Hezbollah and other Iranian terrorist proxy groups intensified rocket fire and cross-border incursions into northern Israel, forcing some 80,000 Israeli civilians to flee their homes.

The Israeli military carried out retaliatory strikes on Thursday after Hezbollah fired more rockets towards northern Israel. “The IDF says it carried out airstrikes against Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon’s Yaroun, Aynata, and Maroun al-Ras a short while ago,” The Times of Israel reported.

Hostage release ‘will only come from stronger pressure,’ IDF Chief of Staff Halevi

With more than 100 Israeli hostages still believed to be languishing in Hamas captivity, the Israeli military will continue to mount pressure on the Gaza-based terrorists.

The hostage release “will only come from stronger pressure,” IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi assured on Wednesday, “and we will press as much as necessary.”

Despite enormous pressure from the Biden White House and other Western allies, the IDF is going ahead with a military and humanitarian plan to enter the last-standing terrorist stronghold of Rafah, where Hamas’ top leadership is hiding behind Israeli hostages and Gaza civilians.

The IDF was conducting operations across Gaza, eliminating Hamas’s terrorist fighting force, destroying weapons cache, and dismantling terrorist infrastructure.

The Israeli TV channel i24NEWS reported:

In a visit to Khan Yunis on Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi reiterated the paramount importance of securing the release of abducted individuals, emphasizing the need for escalated pressure to achieve this critical objective.

Accompanied by esteemed commanders, including Colonel Yaron Finkelman of the Southern Command and Lieutenant Colonel Dan Goldfuss of Division 98, Halevi conducted a comprehensive assessment of the regional situation.

Engaging in dialogue with commando unit leaders and fighters, he lauded their unwavering dedication and valor in the ongoing operations within the Gaza Strip.

Halevi’s words carried weight as he addressed the troops, acknowledging their resilience amid challenging circumstances. “Bringing about an agreement on the release of abductees is a supreme, very important task,” he declared. “It will only come from stronger pressure, and we will press as much as necessary.”

Expressing admiration for the troops’ steadfastness, Halevi emphasized the significance of their contributions to dismantling enemy infrastructure and neutralizing threats. “Another regiment being dismantled, another commander killed, another infrastructure destroyed, this is the way to bring pressure to eventually release the kidnapped,” he asserted.

Halevi’s visit underscored the IDF’s unwavering commitment to upholding security objectives while prioritizing the safe return of abducted individuals. Amid the complex dynamics of the region, his words resonated with resolve and determination, according to a statement from the IDF.

Israel’s war cabinet minister Gantz calls for early election

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political rival and current minister in his war cabinet, Benny Gantz, has called for an early election in September. Gantz, who previously served as Israel’s defense minister and military chief, does not have enough lawmakers in the parliament to force an election. Gantz’s National Unity party has twelve members in the 120-seat Knesset.

President Joe Biden’s administration regards Gantz as the preferred candidate to replace Prime Minister Netanyahu, as recent media reports suggest. In early March, “Joe Biden’s White House did something highly unusual — it treated a visiting foreign cabinet minister as though he were head of government,” the British newspaper Financial Times noted. “Praying that Benny Gantz will replace Benjamin Netanyahu as the country’s next prime minister is now the US president’s unofficial policy.”

President Biden reportedly had an ‘angry’ phone conversation with the Israeli prime minister, according to the NBC News on Thursday:

A U.S. official said ahead of the call that Biden intended to convey his anger over the incident to Netanyahu during their conversation.

The call between the two leaders was arranged after the strike occurred, said a separate U.S. official, who described Biden as being “very angry” about the incident.

The president’s anger is “indicative of the broader problem of how the Israelis are conducting their operations,” for “either not passing on to their military the deconfliction details from World Central Kitchen, or they’re being received and ignored,” the official said.

The news agency Reuters reported Minister Gantz’s demand:

Israel war cabinet member Benny Gantz called for national elections in September on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government faces pressure at home and abroad over the war in Gaza.

“We must agree on a date for elections in September, towards a year to the war if you will,” Gantz said in a televised briefing. “Setting such a date will allow us to continue the military effort while signaling to the citizens of Israel that we will soon renew their trust in us.” (…)

His Likud party on Wednesday said Gantz must “stop engaging in petty politics” during the war. “Elections now will bring about paralysis, division, harm to the fighting in Rafah and a fatal blow to the chances of a hostage deal,” Likud said.

Gantz, a former army general, joined Netanyahu’s government in the early days of the war as a gesture of political unity during the crisis. Polls suggest his party would come top in any election and he would be favourite to take over as premier.

Not just President Biden and his staffers, but even First Lady Jill Biden disapproves of the way Israel is conducting the war against Hamas with Netanyahu at the helm. Mrs. Biden has been telling the president to “stop it now, Joe,” referring to Israel’s ongoing military operation in Gaza, news outlets reported Thursday.

The Sky News (UK) reports:

Jill Biden has been privately urging her husband to end the war between Israel and Hamas and the crisis in Gaza, according to reports.

While speaking with a group of Muslim community leaders at the White House on Tuesday, the president allegedly said that the first lady had told him to “stop it, stop it now, Joe”.

Israel busts terror cell planning to murder national security minister, attack Ben Gurion airport

Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet busted a Palestinian terrorist cell on Thursday, planning to assassinate the country’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and attack several sites, including Ben Gurion airport. The security service arrested 11 Arab Israeli and Palestinian suspects residing in Israel and the PLO-controlled West Bank.

The newspaper Israel Hayom reported:

Israel has foiled a terror cell that planned to carry out attacks in Israel, particularly targeting National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, as well as other sensitive targets, according to an announcement on Thursday morning.

According to the Shin Bet security agency, a joint operation with the IDF and Israel Police exposed the terrorist cell consisting of Arab Israelis and Palestinians from the West Bank.

Following an investigation, 11 suspects were arrested.

Bilal Nasasara, a resident of the southern Bedouin city of Rahat, was identified as heading the terror cell operating and recruiting others from within Israel. Akram Amer, a resident of Tulkarm, was identified as responsible for recruiting operatives in the West Bank.

Their targets included the Ben-Gurion International Airport, government buildings in Jerusalem, IDF bases and other secure facilities.

The plan to assassinate Ben-Gvir was described as an attack against the Kiryat Arba community in the West Bank area of Hebron, intending to use an RPG to kill him.


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