JERUSALEM – Israel is keeping the world safe from terrorism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday, pointing to “40 major terrorist attacks” that the Jewish state recently thwarted on “almost all continents.”
Addressing a group of reporters at an annual event held by the Government Press Office in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said Israel had provided “unmatched intelligence” that prevented about “40 major terrorist attacks that have threatened the entire world.”
“Israel is helping keep the world safe from terrorism,” the prime minister said.
He pointed to a foiled plot by the Islamic State terrorist group in February of last year to blow up a plane en route to Sydney from Abu Dhabi. Intelligence gathered by the IDF’s elite Unit 8200 was provided to Australian authorities who then stopped the attack.
Netanyahu continued by outlining Israel’s efforts in combating the largest state sponsor of terror, Iran.
“Israel is a world force in combating terrorism, the Arabs get it,” he said. “The Arab countries understand exactly that Israel is not their enemy, but their indispensable partner” against extremists.
The prime minister then presented a graph which he said featured the outcome of a poll determining the percentage of people around the world who believe Iranian claims that it harbors no nuclear aspirations.
“Forty-three percent [of respondents in the Middle East] say they don’t believe Iran is stopping its military capabilities and mass destruction capabilities, its nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.
He also said Israel is in “the process of rolling back Iran’s aggression” and its plan to acquire nuclear weapons. Doing so, he added, has also enabled a thawing of relations with Arab states hostile to Iran.
His comments came amid reports that he is working to formalize ties with Saudi Arabia ahead of Israel’s 2019 elections.
Netanyahu also said the IDF is “the only military in the world directly engaging Iranian forces,” referencing strikes against Iranian militias and proxies such as Hezbollah in neighboring Syria.
Israel’s efforts in preventing Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, Netanyahu said, will stop the Islamic Republic from establishing a foothold on a large, continuous swath of territory in the region.
He then described the recently exposed attack tunnels excavated by Hezbollah as “a clear act of aggression.”
Last week, Israel launched “Operation Northern Shield” to detect and destroy cross-border subterranean tunnels that the IDF said Hezbollah was planning to use to infiltrate the Jewish state and launch attacks.
“I hope, I believe Hezbollah will not make the terrible mistake of trying to attack Israel or trying to interfere with our legitimate actions in trying to neutralize these tunnels. If they will, they will suffer much pain and quickly,” Netanyahu said. “I think they’re smart enough not to try us.”
Netanyahu slammed the Lebanese government for failing to “protest” Hezbollah’s actions. “We do hold them accountable for any aggression that is being perpetrated from their territory,” he stated.
Netanyahu also warned Tehran that Israel would be prepared to strike on Iranian soil if it meant ensuring the Jewish state’s survival.
“Our red line is our survival,” he said.
“We do what is necessary to protect the State of Israel against the Iranian regime that openly calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state,” Netanyahu stated. “I’m not ruling out doing anything that we need to do to defend ourselves.”