Israel's Netanyahu to meet top officials as US tries to avert Iranian retaliatory attack

Countries including France, Russia issue travel advisories amid Iran threat

Israel Iran tensions Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu | Reuters

With Iran's retaliation threat looming, Israel's prime minister is gearing up to meet up with top officials including the military as the country prepares for a possible attack. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to meet members of his war cabinet, including Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and opposition figure Benny Gantz, reported BBC. There is speculation that Iran would be targeting military buildings in Israel. 

The possibility of an Iranian attack has pushed Israel to an edge. Countries including India, the US, Russia and France have issued travel advisories in the wake of the imminent attack. 

However, the local authorities were told to prepare for the possibility of an attack, including preparing the public shelters. 

As part of preparing for the attack, the Israeli military cancelled home leave for combat troops and strengthened its air defences. 

As many as 13 people were killed in the 'Israeli' airstrike on April 1 at the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus. Senior Iranian military leaders, including Brig Gen Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander of Iran's elite Quds Force in Syria and Lebanon, were killed in the attack. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with foreign ministers of China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to attempt to convince them to use their influence with Iran. 

Netanyahu, however, said that his government was prepared "to meet all the security needs of the State of Israel". 

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused Israel and said it "must be punished". 

Meanwhile, the White House national security spokesperson said that the prospect of an Iranian attack on Israel is "still a viable threat". 

“We are in constant communication with our Israeli counterparts about making sure that they can defend themselves against those kinds of attacks,” Kirby said.

He also added that he cannot speak to what the intelligence picture tells in terms of the size, scale and scope of what the attack might look like. "We are taking this seriously", he summed up. 

France on Friday warned its citizens to "imperatively refrain from travel in the coming days to Iran, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories". France's foreign minister Stéphane Séjourné also urged the family members of French diplomats in Iran to be evacuated. 

Australia has urged Iran not to escalate tensions in the Middle East. Australian foreign affairs minister Penny Wong said on Friday that she had spoken with her Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and expressed its deep concerns and urged Iran to "use its influence in the region to promote stability, not contribute to escalation”.

The US has restricted the movement of its diplomats in Israel over security fears as well. “Out of an abundance of caution, US government employees and their family members are restricted from personal travel” outside the Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beersheeva areas “until further notice”, an embassy notice on Thursday said.


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