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Iran's FM Invokes 'Legitimate Defense' As Possible Retaliation Against Israel Looms

11.04.2024 21:12

Tensions have escalated between Iran and Israel after attack on Iranian consulate in Syria.

Iran's Foreign Minister said Thursday that "legitimate defense" becomes a necessity when Israel violates the immunity of individuals and diplomatic facilities in breach of international law.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in a phone call with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock on Thursday, with discussions mainly focused on tensions between Tehran and Tel Aviv, Iran's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

At least 13 people were killed in an attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus last week, including seven Iranian military advisers, which Iranian authorities blamed on arch-foe Israel.

Among those killed included Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Syria and Lebanon, and his deputy Gen. Hadi Haj Rahemi.

The attack, which came amid heightened regional tensions in the wake of Israeli onslaught on Gaza that has already killed more than 33,300 Palestinians, drew angry reaction from Iran.

Following the attack, top Iranian political and military leaders vowed "definitive retaliation," prompting officials of many countries to attempt mediation in order to de-escalate the situation.

In Thursday's phone call with the German foreign minister, Iran's top diplomat said his country's foreign policy is based on "refraining from tension" but when Israel "completely violates" the immunity of diplomats and diplomatic places in violation of international law and Vienna Conventions, "legitimate defense" becomes a necessity.

He criticized Germany's decision not to condemn the attack and asked Baerbock whether European countries or the US would adopt a similar stance if a missile strike took place on a diplomatic place in in the war zone of Ukraine.

Amir-Abdollahian called Israel an "occupying entity" and said Palestinians have "a right to legitimate defense," adding that the only way to resolve the current problems is to "end the genocide" in Gaza.

He said Germany's efforts to broker a cease-fire in Gaza have been "fruitless" mainly because the country has lacked neutrality on the issue, pointing to Berlin's pro-Israel tilt.

For her part, the German foreign minister emphasized that diplomatic places have full impunity and added that her country has made efforts to end the war in Gaza through a political solution, according to the ministry statement.

In a post on X after her phone conversation with Amir-Abdollahian, Baerbock urged both Tehran and Tel Aviv to exercise restraint amid rising tensions over the Damascus consulate attack.

"No one can have an interest in a wider regional escalation. We urge all actors in the region to act responsibly and exercise maximum restraint," she wrote.

Addressing an Eid al-Fitr gathering in Tehran on Wednesday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei renewed the threat of retaliation, saying Israel "will be punished" for the attack.

"The evil regime made a mistake in this case and it must be punished and it will be punished," Khamenei warned, fueling speculation that the retaliatory military action is imminent.

In response to his remarks, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz took to X to emphasize Israel's readiness to retaliate in the event of an Iranian military strike.

"If Iran attacks from its own territory, Israel will respond and attack in Iran," he wrote.

Tensions between Iran and Israel, who don't share diplomatic ties, have dramatically escalated amid the war on Gaza and related developments, including attacks on Israeli and American interests in the region by Iran-allied groups in Iraq and Yemen. -

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