Israel weighs response to Iran as war devastates Gaza

Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks to the press on February 5, 2024, in Jerusalem. Amir Levy/Getty ImagesIsrael’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has said that Israel’s response to Iran’s attack should inflict a “disproportionate toll” and “rock Tehran” to deter Iran from future strikes.Smotrich said Israel’s response to Iran’s missile and drone attack should make Tehran “regret the moment they even thought about firing” and be “fierce, severe and inflict a disproportionate toll.”Smotrich, who is technically also a minister in Israel’s defense ministry due to a deal struck in coalition agreements, told Israel’s Army Radio (GLZ) that the nature of Israel’s response would “shape [Israel’s] position in the Middle East.”The response, he said, “should rock Tehran, so everyone there will realize they shouldn’t mess with us,” he said, adding that “this is the language spoken in the Middle East.” The minister, who is head of the far-right Religious Zionism party, also said that Israel should maintain its strategic ties with the United States and other partners but must prevent itself from finding itself in a “bear-hug, which will limit and make us incapable.”Key context: Smotrich is not a member of Israel’s war cabinet, which the security cabinet has authorized to decide on how to respond to the Iranian attack.As tensions in the region intensify, many world leaders have urged restraint as Israel weighs the size and scope of its response to Iran.

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