US slaying of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was ‘self defense,’ Netanyahu says

Benjamin Netanyahu, seen on Nov. 12, 2019, said “President Trump deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively” for the airstrike that killed the Quds Force chief. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed support for the U.S. slaying of the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

Netanyahu spoke Friday about the American airstrike in Baghdad that killed Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, which operates a number of regional militias and is allied with terrorist groups targeting Israel, including Hezbollah and Hamas.

“Just as Israel has the right of self-defense, the United States has exactly the same right,” Netanyahu told reporters at the end of a work visit to Greece, which he cut short, possibly because of the strike.

In November, Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, referred collectively to perceived aggression by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

“We have demonstrated restraint, we have shown patience in the face of hostile moves by America, the Zionist regime and Saudi Arabia, but we will obliterate them if they cross our red lines,” he said in a speech.

Netanyahu seemed to characterize the action as an Iran-U.S. relations issue rather than connected to Israel, which is believed to have been a major preoccupation for Soleimani.

“Qassem Soleimani is responsible for the death of American citizens and many other innocent people. He was planning more such attacks,” the Israeli leader said. “President Trump deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively. Israel stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security and self-defense.”

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, in a statement vowed a “forceful revenge” for the airstrike.