Hours after a blackout at the underground Natanz atomic facility which Iran described as an act of “nuclear terrorism,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that "the fight against Iran's nuclearization... is a massive task".
At a ceremony with military and intelligence chiefs marking the 73rd anniversary next week of Israel's founding, Netanyahu made no direct reference to Natanz.
"The battle against Iran and its proxies and its nuclearization is a massive task. Today's situation does not mean it would be the same tomorrow," he said.
"It is very difficult to explain what we have accomplished here in Israel, in this transition from complete helplessness that was unparalleled in the history of nations, to a world power that we have succeeded building here. Certainly, a regional power, but in some ways also a global one. I wish all of us that you continue down this path, and that you continue to keep the sword of David in your hands."
The premier's remarks came after some Western intelligence officials claimed that the Mossad intelligence agency was behind the blackout that occurred at the facility in Natanz.
According to them, the strike was a "substantial hit" to the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the IDF will continue to build its strength to fight off any threats to the Jewish state.
"We are facing various challenges in the near future in the Palestinian arena, in the battle against coronavirus that we do not know what it will develop to, and also against Iran which continues to entrench itself and pose a strategic threat to the world and Israel," Gantz said.
"The IDF will continue to build its force in accordance with the new and changing challenges and be prepared for any scenario. We have someone to trust and it is up to you. I would like to thank the [IDF] chief of staff [Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi], each and every one of you until the last soldiers on the ground for staying vigilant and carrying out all tasks."
Also speaking at the event, Kochavi did not mention Iran at all.
"The IDF is an organization that unites all parts of the people. It's like a melting pot – whether you're in a tank or a ship, and a commander who commanded soldiers from Dimona to North Tel Aviv – becomes a whole different person when leaving the army," he said.
The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, stopped short of directly blaming anyone for the incident earlier Sunday. Details remained few about what happened in the early morning hours at the facility, which initially was described as a blackout caused by the electrical grid feeding the site.
“To thwart the goals of this terrorist movement, the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue to seriously improve nuclear technology on the one hand and to lift oppressive sanctions on the other hand,” Salehi said, according to state TV.
He added: “While condemning this desperate move, the Islamic Republic of Iran emphasizes the need for a confrontation by the international bodies and the (International Atomic Energy Agency) against this nuclear terrorism.”