Iran Warns Israel Against 'Foolish' Action Amid Saber Rattling, Proxy Attacks

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson has warned Israel against taking any "foolish" action against Tehran, following belligerent remarks by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz this week.

Saeed Khatibzadeh wrote on Twitter that any Israeli action would be met with a decisive Iranian response.

"In another brazen violation of Int'l law, Israeli regime now blatantly threatens Iran with military action," Khatibzadeh wrote on Twitter, which is banned in Iran. "Such malign behavior stems from blind Western support.

"We state this clearly: ANY foolish act against Iran will be met with a DECISIVE response. Don't test us."

Gantz angered the Iranians this week when he said Israel was ready to strike Iran if necessary. "The world needs to deal with Iran, the region needs to deal with Iran and Israel also needs to do its part in this situation," Gantz told news website Ynet on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held a meeting with United Nations Security Council ambassadors to update them on Iranian activity.

"I emphasized to my international friends that now is the time for deeds—words are not enough. It is time for diplomatic, economic and even military deeds—otherwise the attacks will continue," Gantz said about the briefing.

Israel and Iran have long maintained a steady drumbeat of threats. Years of tension have been punctuated by attacks on commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf; Israeli covert operations against Iran's nuclear program, including assassinations; Israeli airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria; and Iranian support for attacks on Israel by proxy allies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Israel considers the theocracy in Tehran an existential threat. President Joe Biden's plan to thaw ties with Iran and revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal would be a severe strategic setback for Israel—and leaders have made no secret of their opposition to the U.S. position.

Gantz claimed this week that Iran was 10 weeks away from having enough nuclear material to make a nuclear warhead. The JCPOA is designed to limit Iran's nuclear program, capping its enriched uranium at a level only suitable for civilian power use.

The Biden administration believes the JCPOA is the only realistic way to restrain Iran's nuclear capabilities. Years of Israeli and American covert and military actions have failed to stop Tehran's nuclear program and hopes of regime change have been dashed.

Former President Donald Trump pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018, dismissing the accord as a weak deal. The JCPOA did not include restrictions on Iran's ballistic missile program or its use of regional proxy militias to export Tehran's authoritarian ideology.

Biden has said he wants to use the JCPOA as a foundation for a broader agreement that would include the ballistic missiles and regional influence, though leaders in Tehran have dismissed this proposal out of hand.

JCPOA talks are expected to resume later this month, after President Ebrahim Raisi took office this week. Raisi—known as "the Butcher" for his role overseeing mass executions of government opponents in the 1980s—is a conservative and close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

His election has been interpreted as a sign that the government will look to entrench its authoritarian control of the country and strengthen its influence and militia alliances in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and the Palestinian Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Tensions are currently running high on the Israel-Lebanon border following exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF launched artillery and airstrikes on Thursday after a rocket fired from Lebanon landed in northern Israel. It is not clear who launched the rocket.

Hezbollah said it had responded on Friday with a series of rocket launches across the border, several of which were intercepted by Israeli defenses.

IDF artillery fires at positions in Lebanon
Israeli howitzers fire towards Lebanon from a position near the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona following rocket fire from the Lebanese side of the border, on August 6. JALAA MAREY/AFP via Getty Images