IDF General: We Are Observing From the Side

YERUSHALAYIM -
Head of IDF Southern Command, Major General Herzi Halevy. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The head of the IDF Southern Command said on Monday that Israel is maintaining observer status in the current confrontation between the United States and Iran.

In the first public comment by a senior IDF officer on the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi said:

“Soleimani hurt American interests and represented a significant danger to Americans in the region. We must look at the assassination as part of a fight between Iran and the United States over Iraq’s character. That is the story,” he said.

“The assassination also has ramifications for us as Israelis, and we must follow it closely, but we aren’t the main story here — and it’s good that it happened far away,” he said at a news conference in Yerushalayim.

“We are observing from the side. I assume the coming few weeks will be very interesting,” he added.

Meanwhile, on Monday evening, the U.S. Embassy in Yerushalayim released a travel advisory to its citizens residing or traveling in Israel, Yehuda and Shomron and Gaza.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Embassy strongly encourages US citizens to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness, as security incidents, including rocket fire, often take place without warning,” it said.

On Friday, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett convened the Security Cabinet to discuss the security implications for Israel of the elimination of Soleimani.

In the wake of the elimination of Soleimani, Israel has begun to prepare itself for a possible Iranian attack. Bennett met 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.

The Foreign Ministry has placed all Israeli government facilities abroad on high alert, and security will be increased at facilities in “sensitive areas.”

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, advising Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on policy matters.