Two tanker attack incidents within the span of less than a week are now being blamed by the US, UK, and Israel on Iran. First there was last Thursday's Mercer Street tanker drone attack which left two British and Romanian crew members dead, and then on Tuesday there was the hijacking on the Panama-flagged Asphalt Princess - boarded by a half dozen armed Iranian militants.
Since the Israeli-managed Mercer came under assault, Israeli leaders have been openly proposing military action to allies, saying it may be needed to stop the Iranian attacks. Israel says it has provided allies like the United States with "hard evidence" that Tehran was indeed behind the drone attack in the Arabian Sea. And now Israel's defense chief says the country is prepared to strike in Iran in his latest comments.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz was asked directly in an interview published Thursday with YNet News whether Israel is prepared to launch a military attack on Iran, to which he replied simply with, "Yes".
Gantz explained Israel's military stands ready to engage in a "multi-front" conflict - likely a reference to Syria where it's already conducting weekly airstrikes against "Iran-backed" groups allied with Assad.
He specifically charged that Islamic Jihad and Hamas rocket-fire out of Gaza had the direct backing of the Islamic Republic. There's also Iran ally Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, where this week rare exchanges of fire have taken place along Israel's northern border.
IDF publishes footage of the airstrikes conducted in southern Lebanon earlier tonight pic.twitter.com/uNAbWWPEMT— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) August 5, 2021
He addressed this new Lebanon flare-up, saying "Our actions overnight were meant to send a clear message that we will not accept such attacks."
"I hope we are not forced into further action. Lebanon is in a state of chaos caused in a large extend by the Hezbollah terror group."
"Iran seeks to pose a multi-front challenge to Israel, as such is building up its forces in Lebanon and Gaza, deploying militias in Syria and Iraq and maintaining its supporters in Yemen. Iran is a global and regional problem and an Israeli challenge," Gantz told Ynet further.
"We need to continue to develop our abilities to cope with multiple fronts, for this is the future," he added.