Concern in Israel Over Soleimani Elimination; Hermon Site Closed

Burning debris as seen on a road near Baghdad International Airport, which, according to Iraqi paramilitary groups, were caused by three rockets hitting the airport in Iraq, Thursday. (Iraqi Security Media Cell via Reuters)

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett will convene the Security Cabinet Friday to discuss the security implications for Israel of the elimination of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad overnight Thursday. Soleimani was killed in an American airstrike, along with three Iraqi officials. Iran has sworn to retaliate against the U.S. and Israel.

Soleimani was the head of Iran’s Quds Force, Iran’s external “black ops” military group, which worked throughout the Middle East to advance Iranian interests. The Golan is among the fronts the Quds Force is very active on. The U.S. action is seen as a retaliation to the attempt earlier this week by Iran-backed Iraqi militia groups to take over the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

In the wake of the elimination of Soleimani, Israel has begun to prepare itself for a possible Iranian attack. Bennett will meet with ministers, as well as with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and senior IDF officials. Ministers have been asked not to speak to the media.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is abroad, and his Office has not yet commented on the elimination, but officials said he was getting “constant updates” on the security situation. The Foreign Ministry has placed all Israeli government facilities abroad on high alert, and security will be increased at facilities in “sensitive areas.”

The most likely target for an attack in the country, if one does come, would be northern Israel, but no special instructions have been issued yet for residents of the region. With that, it was decided that the Hermon would remain closed to visitors. The Israeli snow and ski site was set to open Friday, after snow that fell in recent days mounted. The site has been the target of rocket attacks several times in recent years.

Blue and White’s Yair Lapid congratulated the U.S. for the attack. “He was responsible for murderous terror attacks from Damascus to Buenos Aires, and in the end he got what was coming to him. Iran’s government is a terroristic one, and we need to act decisively against terror. Anyone who is a partner in terror must realize that he takes his life in his hands,” Lapid wrote in a social media post.

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