Middle East

Netanyahu: Israel will defend itself 'by any means necessary'

A picture taken on August 26, 2019, shows Israeli soldiers patrolling Image copyright AFP
Image caption Israel has put its military on high alert along its borders with Syria and Lebanon

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hit back at critics following a series of alleged air strikes across the Middle East.

Mr Netanyahu also accused Iran of producing "terror attacks" and said Israel would defend itself "by any means necessary".

It comes after reports of strikes against Iranian targets and Iran-backed militias in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

An Israeli minister said on Monday that some of the attacks "aren't ours".

Israel's military rarely acknowledges operations in Syria, but said on Saturday that it had struck several sites and thwarted an Iranian attack on Israel "using killer drones".

Israel has been so concerned by what it calls Iran's "military entrenchment" in Syria and shipments of Iranian weapons to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah that it has conducted hundreds of air strikes in an attempt to thwart them since 2011.

In a video statement issued on Monday, Mr Netanyahu said: "Iran is working on several fronts to carry out deadly attacks against the state of Israel. Israel will continue to defend its security by all means necessary."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A Hezbollah office in Beirut was damaged by a drone on Sunday - the group blamed Israel

On Sunday, two drones that the Lebanese army said were Israeli crashed in the southern Beirut district of Dahia, which is dominated by Hezbollah.

One of the drones hit a building that houses Hezbollah's media office, while the other exploded and crashed nearby, causing material damage.

A Palestinian militant group also said on Monday that Israel had struck one of its positions in Lebanon's Bekaa valley.

Israel has not said it was behind the incidents, but Lebanese President Michel Aoun has blamed Israel, saying it was "similar to a declaration of war".

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah pledged that the group's fighters would shoot down any drones that entered Lebanese airspace from now on.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hezbollah released an image it said showed one of the Israeli drones that came down in Beirut

Meanwhile, in Iraq, paramilitary factions blamed Israel for recent explosions at military sites and weapons depots.

The country's president, Barham Saleh, and prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, have called them an "attack on Iraqi sovereignty".

Israel has not officially declared it was behind the blasts, but Mr Netanyahu has hinted at its involvement.

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said on Monday: "The prime minister once remarked that every explosion in the Middle East is attributed to Israel."

"I want to tell you that there are also things being attributed to us that aren't ours. Since I cannot say what was us and what wasn't, I'm saying that there are things being attributed to us that aren't ours."

Israel has put its military on high alert along its frontiers with Syria and Lebanon.

Also on Monday US Vice-President Mike Pence tweeted that his country "fully supports Israel's right to defend itself from imminent threats".

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