As year to Soleimani’s assassination nears, IDF preps for attack

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Iran accuses Israel of trying to provoke war by attacking Americans.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Thursday any U.S. or Saudi military strike against Iran would result in "all-out war" (photo credit: REUTERS/EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA)

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Thursday any U.S. or Saudi military strike against Iran would result in “all-out war”

(photo credit: REUTERS/EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA)

As Iran commemorates one year since the assassination of Quds Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani on Sunday, the IDF prepares for a possible attack by Tehran, a senior military source told The Jerusalem Post.

The military is bracing for an attack not only by Iran itself but from its proxies, in what the army calls the “second circle countries” such as Iraq or Yemen.

The source noted that at this stage, the IDF has held discussions on the planning level and reviewed possible scenarios of different attacks.

In mid-December, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi warned Iran and its proxies that if they try to carry out attacks against Israel or Israeli targets, they will be attacked by the IDF and pay a heavy price.

“We are hearing more and more threats against Israel coming from Iran,” he said. “If Iran and its partners… attack the State of Israel, they will [pay] a heavy price.

“I am simplifying things and describing the situation to our enemies as it is,” he added. “Our retaliation plans are prepared, and they already have been practiced.”

Soleimani’s assassination came after a year that Iran views as a period of achievements in its battle against the US.

During 2019, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) managed to shoot down a United States RQ-4A Global Hawk BAMS-D surveillance drone, it attacked oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and it carried out a massive attack on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais.

However, 2020 signaled a turnover in the US attitude toward Iran. It started with Soleimani’s assassination, continued with sanctions, and ended with the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

While Tehran didn’t respond yet to the latter attack, the next three weeks – until the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden – will be a tense period in which the Islamic Republic might retaliate and try to signal to the incoming president that he should be concerned if he plans on continuing Trump’s policies in the region.

Last Friday, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman told the Saudi news website Elaph that Israel is monitoring Tehran’s movement in the region and expects that an Iranian attack could come from Iraq and Yemen.

He noted that Iran has developed a wide range of capabilities in the area – and specifically in those two countries – that include advanced drones and remote-guided missiles, which they manage to operate without detection, indicating “a great Iranian ability in this area.”

He stressed that everyone should be on high alert regarding the Iranian threat, which he described as a “powder keg liable to explode,” considering the many blows Iran has received in the past year without being able to properly respond.

On Saturday, Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif accused Israel of trying to provoke a war before US President Donald Trump completes his term.

He wrote on Twitter: “New intelligence from Iraq indicate that Israeli agent-provocateurs are plotting attacks against Americans – putting an outgoing Trump in a bind with a fake casus belli.

“Be careful of a trap, @realDonaldTrump,” the tweet said. “Any fireworks will backfire badly, particularly against your same BFFs,” he wrote.

Esmail Ghaani, who succeeded Soleimani as head of the elite Quds force, said on Friday that Iran was still ready to respond.

The US military flew two nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Middle East in a message of deterrence to Iran on Wednesday, but the bombers have since left the region.

Tobias Segal and Reuters contributed to this report.

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