Israel says regional air defense alliance foiled Iran attacks

Defense minister tells Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee a response to Iranian aggression will come both in real world and in cyber space; senior Iran official says alliance is a sign of 'desperation'

Reuters, Itamar Eichner|
Israel is building a U.S.-sponsored regional air defense alliance, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday, adding that the apparatus has already foiled attempted Iranian attacks and could be boosted by President Joe Biden's visit next month.
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  • Unveiling what he dubbed the "Middle East Air Defence Alliance" in a briefing to parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Gantz said such cooperation is already under way.
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    בני גנץ
    בני גנץ
    Benny Gantz
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    "Over the past year I have been leading an extensive programme, together with my partners at the Pentagon and in the U.S. administration, that will strengthen the cooperation between Israel and countries in the region," he said, according to an official transcript.
    "This program is already operative and has already enabled the successful interception of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries."
    The transcript did not name partner countries nor give further details on the thwarted attacks. Iran, Israel's arch-foe and a regional rival of Arab powers, says any military actions it takes are defensive.
    A senior Iranian army commander, Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, said the joint military activities of Israel and some Arab countries in the Gulf are done "out of desperation".
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    משמרות המהפכה
    משמרות המהפכה
    Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps
    (Photo: AP)
    The minister also told committee member that he instructed security authorities to prepare a forceful response if Israelis come under attack from Iranians in Turkey, and there were a number of possible retaliations at Israel's disposal, including potential targets for attack.
    "We will know how to respond at the time and place of our choosing, in case of any Iranian aggression on any level and in any location, both physical and in cyberspace," Gantz said.
    Israel's cybersecurity authority said earlier on Monday that an Iranian hack triggered municipal siren alert systems in Jerusalem and Eilat on Sunday.
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    Tel Aviv municipality sirens
    Tel Aviv municipality sirens
    Tel Aviv's rocket alert siren system
    (Photo: Dana Kopel)
    "We have succeeded in enlisting international support in our struggle against Iran in recent months," the minister told the committee, "including in our efforts to keep the designation of a terror organization, for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and in the condemnation of Iran by the IAEA."
    "Iran's refusal to cooperate with the IAEA is prove that it cannot be a partner to a new nuclear deal that will distance it from obtaining nuclear weapons," Gantz said.
    "The entire world, under the leadership of our friend the United States, must exert political economic and even military pressure on Tehran," he said.
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    נפתלי בנט ורפאל גרוסי
    נפתלי בנט ורפאל גרוסי
    IAEA chief Rafael Grossi with Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: GPO)
    "I have raised with colleagues in the Pentagon the comprehensive plan of action, which we are preparing to bolster Israeli cooperation with others in the region with American support.
    "I hope this will be advanced further during the important visit to the Mideast by U.S. President Joe Biden," he said.
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