Senior Iranian cleric threatens to attack Israel if US strikes Iran

A senior member of Iran’s leadership, Imam Ahmad Khatami, threatened to attack Israel if the US strikes Iran. 

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a senior member of Iran’s leadership, warned the United States and Israel that both would pay a “heavy” cost if the US goes to war with his country, reported the Iranian Tasnim News Agency on Wednesday.

Speaking to attendees of a Tehran mosque who were celebrating the Eid al-Adha holiday, the hard-line cleric said, “The costs of a possible US war on Iran will be definitely heavy for Americans, and any aggression against Iran will inflict costs not only on America, but also on its ally, the Zionist regime.”

His remarks come only a day after Iran claimed it revealed its first domestically-produced jet fighter. Shortly after the unveiling, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Arabic spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, tweeted that the jet bore an uncanny resemblance to the US F-5 jet, which was produced in the 1950s.

Iran’s unchecked ballistic missile development program, which it claims it needs for defensive purposes, was one of the top items on the agenda this week in the talks between US National Security Adviser John Bolton and Netanyahu.

Khatami also echoed his Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s rejection of any renegotiation of the nuclear deal that President Trump withdrew from in May.

“Americans say you should accept what we say in the talks,” he stated, according to a Reuters translation of his remarks in the regime-supporting Mizan news agency. “So this is not negotiation, but dictatorship. The Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation would stand up against dictatorship.”

Khameini himself has accused the administration of “bullying” Iran, saying that Americans “easily renege on promises and refuse to fulfill them after negotiations” and it is therefore forbidden to talk to them.

Khatami has threatened Israel several times in the past, most recently in May, after the IAF struck dozens of military targets belonging to the Iranian Quds forces in Syrian territory in retaliation for its firing a barrage of missiles towards the Golan Heights. No one was injured in the attack, though the Iron Dome defense system had to shoot down several of the rockets.

“We will expand our missile capabilities despite western pressure [to curb it] … to let Israel know that if it acts foolishly, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be totally destroyed,” the 58-year-old imam ranted during a sermon that same week, according to Reuters.

He has also encouraged Palestinian aggression, as in a homily during prayers following President Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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“[Trump] proved that the cure for the issue of Palestine is only, only, an intifada,” he said, using a term that signifies violent confrontation, and terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. Khatami encouraged the Palestinians, “Any damage that you can incur to this occupying and criminal regime will mean you have taken a step towards pleasing God,” reported AFP.