Netanyahu on Iran: We Appreciate U.S. Support, but Israel Ready to Defend Itself

Comments come days after it was revealed that Netanyahu is seeking to improve Israel's ability to identify Iranian cruise missiles by supplementing its defense budget

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at Mt. Herzl, Jerusalem, October 10, 2019.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at Mt. Herzl, Jerusalem, October 10, 2019. Credit: AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented publicly on Thursday about last month's attack on Saudi oil facilities, which has been blamed on the Iranians. Iran, the prime minister said, "has crossed the line over and over in its audacity."

Speaking during a ceremony held at Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl national cemetery in memory of Israeli soldiers killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the prime minister said that Iran is "seeking to tighten its grip in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen and in the Gaza Strip. It is incessantly arming itself, equipping its offshoots with dangerous weaponry, assaulting freedom of navigation in international shipping lanes. It has downed a large American unmanned aerial vehicle and carried out a blatant and unprecedented attack on oil fields in Saudi Arabia."

"Iran is threatening to wipe us off the map. It explicitly says: 'Israel will disappear.' Time after time, it is trying to attack us, and we must therefore stand at the ready to defend ourselves from the danger."

Referring to a biblical passage that appears in the Book of Numbers, he added: "We do not seek to be 'a people that shall dwell alone,' but we were forced to face that at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War – when American assistance only arrived near the end. As in 1973, today too, we very much appreciate the important support of the United States, which has even greatly increased in recent years, as well as the huge economic pressure that the United States is exerting on Iran."

However, Netanyahu added that Israel will "always remember and follow the basic rule that guides us: Israel will defend itself by itself in the face of every threat."

This week, Haaretz reported that Netanyahu is urgently seeking to supplement the country's defense budget by several billion shekels to improve Israel's missile defense systems' capacity to identify incoming Iranian cruise missiles. On Sunday, the security cabinet met in the wake of the recent developments related to the Iranian threat.

Netanyahu's initiative was in response to the attack, attributed to Iran, on two Saudi oil facilities on September 14. The attack was carried out with a combination of drones and cruise missiles.

An initial evaluation of the massive damage has shown that the Iranians managed to bypass U.S. Patriot missile battery radar in Saudi Arabia. The attack, which also made an impression on Israeli defense officials, could require changes in Israel’s defensive preparations.