As Iran threatens attack, US reaffirms ‘ironclad’ support for Israel

Washington and its allies believe a major attack on Israel by Iran has become a matter of when, not if.

By Charles Bybelezer, JNS

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated on Thursday Washington’s commitment to upholding Israel’s security, as the IDF continued preparations for an expected Iranian attack on the home front.

Austin spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant “to reiterate ironclad U.S. support for Israel’s defense in the face of growing threats from Iran and its regional proxies,” according to a Pentagon readout of their call.

“Echoing President Biden’s unequivocal message to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Secretary Austin assured Minister Gallant that Israel could count on full U.S. support to defend Israel against Iranian attacks, which Tehran has publicly threatened,” added the statement.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden said his administration was committed to backing Israel amid reports of an imminent Iranian attack.

“As I told Prime Minister Netanyahu, our commitment to Israel’s security against these threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad,” said Biden.

“Let me say it again, ironclad. We’re going to do all we can to protect Israel’s security,” he added.

Washington and its allies believe a major attack on Israel by Iran has become a matter of when, not if, following the killing of an Iranian general in Syria on April 1, which Tehran blamed on the Jewish state.

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Israel has not officially taken responsibility for the attack in Damascus which killed Brig. Gen. Mohammad Zahedi, but four officials told The New York Times last week that Jerusalem ordered the strike.

On Thursday, Austin and Gallant “discussed readiness for an Iranian attack against the State of Israel, which could lead to regional escalation… [and] require an appropriate Israeli response,” according to an Israeli readout.

Gen. Erik Kurilla, commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees the Middle East, arrived in Israel on Thursday to coordinate with the Israel Defense Forces regarding a possible attack.

Jerusalem is preparing for a strike in the next 24 to 48 hours, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing U.S. intelligence.

The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem announced on Thursday that “out of an abundance of caution,” government employees and their family members can only travel for personal reasons in the greater Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beersheva areas “until further notice.”

On Thursday evening, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said that Israel was “highly prepared for various scenarios, and we are constantly assessing the situation. We are ready on offense and defense using various capabilities, and also with our strategic partners,” he added.

The Israel Defense Forces has been placed on high alert, resulting in combat soldiers’ weekend leaves being canceled and the military calling up additional reserve soldiers to the IDF Aerial Defense Array.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that the Jewish state would respond in kind to any attack.

Speaking during a visit to the Tel Nof Air Base, he said, “We are in challenging times. We are in the midst of the war in Gaza, which is continuing at full force, even as we are continuing our relentless efforts to return our hostages.”

However, he continued, “We are also prepared for scenarios involving challenges in other sectors. We have determined a simple rule: Whoever harms us, we will harm them.”