Wednesday, 17 April 2024 18:51

Insights on Israel's Response: Interview with Mr. Tomer Bar-Lavi, Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Israel to Ethiopia

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 In the wake of the recent Iran attack on Israel, Addis Admass  had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Tomer Bar-Lavi, the Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Israel to Ethiopia, to gain valuable insights into Israel's response to this significant event. Join us as we delve into the implications, strategies, and diplomatic considerations in the aftermath of this attack.

 Can you provide us with an overview of the recent drone and missile attack by Iran on Israel?

On Saturday night, April 13, the Iranian regime carried out an unprecedented and massive attack against Israel, firing over 300 ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and attack UAVs from its territory at Israeli targets, trying to cause significant death and destruction. Thankfully, due to Israel's advanced military capabilities and in cooperation with our allies and partners, we were able to shoot down 99% of the projectiles before they landed in Israeli territory.

This attack, carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), violates the UN Charter and crosses another red line and proves what Israel has been saying for years: that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the primary source of instability and terrorism across the Middle East, and poses a threat to regional and world peace. It also underscores why Iran must never be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.

 How does Israel plan to respond to this aggression?

The response to this massive aggression should be carried out on multiple fronts:

First of all, the IRGC, the body that carried out this attack, should be immediately designated as a terrorist organization by governments and international bodies around the world. The IRGC funds, trains and arms additional terror proxies of the Iranian regime in the region, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and Shia militias in Iraq. It sows chaos in the region in an effort to spread Iran's nefarious influence and destabilize the moderate forces of the Middle East.

Secondly, this attack showed that Iran's pursuit of strategic capabilities, including advanced missiles and related technologies, is meant to advance the regime's aggression and threaten Israel and the world order. Strict and painful sanctions must be imposed on the Iranian regime's pursuit of such strategic capabilities including but not limited to the field of missiles.

Finally, as any country that has been attacked on such a massive scale, and following the daily genocidal threats of Islamic Republic officials to destroy our country, Israel reserves the right to defend itself from such aggression. As we have done in the past, we will continue to defend ourselves against Iranian attacks in the future.

 How does Israel assess the immediate and long-term security implications of Iran's recent drone and missile attack, particularly in the context of ongoing regional tensions?

 Iran has been funding and arming regional proxies for years, spreading terrorism and instability. Hamas was funded, trained and armed in large part by the Iranian regime, and the attacks of October 7 2023 would not have happened without Iranian support for this genocidal terrorist organization. For the last six months, Iran has been waging a war against Israel through its proxies - Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and Shia militias in Iraq. We see that the Hezbollah attacks from Israel's northern border have been gradually increasing and threatening a full-out multi-front war, and the Houthi attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea have damaged global trade and affected economies around the world.

The most recent attack is an escalation in that it represents the first time that the Islamic Republic has directly targeted Israel from Iranian territory. This escalation destabilizes the region in an unprecedented way, threatening a larger conflict. It also signals the importance of regional and international alliances against such irrational actors.

  In light of this attack, how does Israel perceive the broader threat posed by Iran's military capabilities and regional ambitions?

Israel sees this attack as confirming what we have warned about for many years regarding the Islamic Republic's efforts, through its Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, to destabilize the region and spread terrorism in an attempt to expand its influence and sow chaos across the Middle East. Many moderate and responsible actors in the region have long ago realized this fact.

Iran's ambitions spread further than just the Middle East, and responsible actors around the world need to pay attention and oppose the Iranian regime's attempts to gain influence and destabilize the world order. The recent attack needs to serve as a wake-up call to all those who questioned the Iranian regime's seriousness when calling for the destruction of Israel and the spread of terrorism. This regime's actions confirm the words of its most extreme leaders.
. What diplomatic channels is Israel pursuing to address Iran's aggression?

Immediately following Saturday night's attack, Israel's Ambassador the UN requested an urgent UN Security Council meeting to discuss the issue. We continue to call on the UN and additional bodies and countries to unequivocally condemn Iran's aggressive actions and call on the Islamic Republic and its proxies to immediately cease their attacks.

Israel welcomes the strong condemnations of Iran's attack made by many countries around the world, and we encourage additional countries to join those condemning this egregious violation of international law.

I will repeat, in the diplomatic sphere, there are two immediate practical steps that must be taken, and those are:

1- The designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization.
2- The imposition of painful sanctions targeting Iran's strategic capabilities including ballistic missiles, attack UAVs, the ongoing nuclear program, and space capabilities that Iran is working to attain. The world must learn to block Iran and deny it from obtaining and continuing to develop such strategic capabilities, which will end up in the hands of Iran's emissaries in the region and around the world.

The attack has accentuated the necessity of imposing and expanding alternative and comprehensive sanctions regimes as a replacement for the sanctions regime that expired in October 2023 under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, as well as the urgent need to stop and reverse Iran's nuclear program while it is still possible.

 What message would you like to convey to the international community regarding this incident?

Israel appreciates that the United States and all its allies stand with Israel, and we appreciate their assistance in containing the recent Iranian attack. This stance clearly demonstrates that we are in a struggle between the free world and an axis of evil whose roots are based in Tehran's regime.

As we welcome the international community's condemnations of this attack, we encourage additional responsible actors to join in the condemnation of Iranian aggression and to stand alongside Israel by supporting Israel's right to defend itself.

It's also important to note that Israel does not see the people of Iran as its enemies, but rather the radical regime of Iran, which oppresses its population and whose stated goal is Israel's eradication. In fact, in the days following Saturday's attack, the hashtag #IraniansStandWithIsrael was trending on the social network X (formerly Twitter). We understand that the Iranian people are suffering under this regime, and we express our support for them in their difficult situation.
. Looking ahead, what steps does Israel intend to take to prevent further escalation and promote stability in the region?

Until October 7 2023, the Middle East was moving towards a complete transformation. Starting in 2020 with the Abraham Accords, Israel signed normalization and peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco, and we were working on normalizing relations with Sudan. The process continued, and in the months before this war began, we were even moving towards normalization with Saudi Arabia. This vision of a more interconnected and cooperative Middle East was, and remains, the way forward.

Unfortunately, the Iranian regime and its extremist proxies throughout the region felt threatened by such positive diplomatic developments, which gave hope for a better future for the people of the region but created obstacles for the continued spread of Iranian influence and terrorism across the Middle East. In no small part, the horrific Hamas terrorist attack of October 7 represented an attempt by the extremists -- part of the network directed by Iran -- to stop and roll back the positive diplomatic, economic and social achievements that had been made between Israel and the Arab World over the last few years.

We hope and believe that in this battle of moderates vs. extremists, the moderates of the region will prevail, and that our shared vision of a more interconnected and cooperative Middle East will get back on track once this war comes to an end and Israel restores security to its borders and its citizens.
 How does Israel view the role of international partners, particularly allies in the region, in countering Iran's destabilizing actions?

Again, this is a battle of moderates versus extremists -- those who believe in a better and more peaceful future, versus those who feed off of conflict, terrorism and chaos. In this battle, we have partners both globally and regionally, and I think we were able to witness this during the response to last Saturday's attack. These partnerships are important, and come from shared core interests which overshadow any kind of political rhetoric in one direction or another.

Led by the United States, Israel's allies and partners are able to work together when facing a common, vicious adversary.

Is there anything you can explain to us about the information that the Israeli military cabinet is divided into two regarding taking retaliatory measures against Iran?

As I mentioned earlier, Israel reserves the right to defend itself against this illegal aggression by the Iranian regime, and we will do so, as we have done in the past.  

 What do you say about America saying that it will not participate in Israel's retaliatory measures against Iran?

Israel appreciates that the US and additional allies stand with us, and this was most clearly seen in the cooperation in containing Saturday's attack. The support and cooperation led by the US are invaluable and unparalleled.

No country could accept threats to its very existence, and Israel is no different. Israel will not tolerate the threats Iran poses to it and will respond strongly to any attempt to cause it harm. Israel will ensure that neither Iran nor its proxy organizations will pose a threat to its citizens.

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