A former leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatened on Sunday that Israeli cities could be targeted in an escalation of hostilities with the United States, according to media reports.
“If [U.S. President Donald] Trump retaliates to Iran’s revenge, we will strike Haifa, Tel Aviv and wipe out Israel,” Mohsen Rezaei said at a ceremony in honor of the slain military chief Qassem Soleimani.
Rezaei currently serves as Expediency Council Secretary, which advises Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on policy matters.
He also alleged that Israel transferred information about Soleimani’s whereabouts to U.S. forces, who killed him Friday in a drone strike.
“The assassination of General Soleimani established a new revolution in Iran against America,” said Rezaei.
Despite fears of escalation to war, a former deputy commander of the IDF said on Sunday that Iran’s revenge-seeking will likely be calibrated so as to avoid a major conflict.
Maj. Gen. (res.) Yair Golan told Channel 12: “The Iranians have a dilemma: if [the attack is] too weak, people will say, ‘They don’t respond.’ If too strong, they’ll bring down on their heads the full brunt of the most powerful nation on Earth.”
On the other hand, Golan rebuffed commentators who suggested that Iran’s military capabilities had suffered a long term setback with the death of Soleimani.
“Soleimani was very talented and experienced, 21 years on the job,” Golan acknowledged. “On the other hand, let’s not exaggerate. We are all replaceable. They appointed a replacement immediately, and the replacement [Maj. Gen. Esmail Ghaani] is also a very experienced figure in Iran’s shadow activities.”
Golan was a senior planner of the IDF air strikes and special forces operations against Iran’s military forces in Syria.