The pressure on Netanyahu is increasing. Following the deaths of aid workers in Gaza, the US ally is frustrated. Following Iranian threats, Israel reinforces its air defense.

Iran's President Raisi speaks into a microphone.

The president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi Photo: Vahid Salemi/ap

TEL AVIV/WASHINGTON dpa | Israel wants to strengthen its air defense in the context of serious threats from Iran. After assessing the situation, it was decided to increase the number of troops and call up missile defense reservists, the Israeli army announced Wednesday night. The military did not explicitly explain the reasons. However, Israeli media reported that the background was threats from Tehran. Following the alleged Israeli airstrike on the Iranian embassy building in the Syrian capital Damascus, which caused several deaths, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said the attack “will not go unanswered.” The head of state, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also threatened retaliation.

Iran threatens retaliation

Two brigadier generals and five other members of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard were killed in Monday's attack. According to the Iranian Tasnim news agency, six Syrian citizens were also killed. The Revolutionary Guard is Iran's elite military force and is considered more powerful than the country's conventional armed forces. The Iranian Foreign Ministry believes archenemy Israel carried out the attack. According to the US government, Israel was also responsible. The Israeli side did not comment on the incident.

US “frustrated” by Israel's actions after deaths of Gaza aides

Meanwhile, Israel continues to deal with the fallout from its deadly airstrike against foreign aid workers from the World Center Kitchen organization in the besieged Gaza Strip. Israel's most important ally, the United States, was openly frustrated by the actions of the Israeli military. The communications director of the US National Security Council, John Kirby, said on Wednesday that the incident marked “the culmination of similar events” and that US President Joe Biden had expressed “his outrage, his frustration” over it. . This isn't the first time something like this has happened, Kirby said. “And yes, we are frustrated by that.”

Seven employees of the humanitarian organization World Central Kitchen were killed on Monday afternoon in an Israeli army airstrike in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the army spoke of an accidental coup and a serious mistake. Biden then made serious accusations against Israel. “This is not an isolated case,” Biden complained in a written statement on Tuesday afternoon (local time). “This conflict is one of the worst in recent memory in terms of the number of aid workers killed.”

Kirby made it clear regarding the Israelis: “We continue to support their right to defend themselves. And we will continue to do so.” However, the US government is concerned about Israel's actions. Every day we talk about the way war is fought.

US sticks to plans to build temporary port off Gaza

Despite the deaths of the aid workers, the United States is sticking with its plans to build a temporary port on the sea off the Gaza Strip. The incident has no impact on efforts to build the dock to bring aid to Gaza by sea, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on Wednesday. They want to move forward with the project as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, six of the seven bodies of the aid workers were returned to Egypt. This was reported on Wednesday by the state television station Al-Kahira News. Ambulances took the bodies to Egypt through the Rafah crossing. The slain aides came from Britain, Poland and Australia, and one of the victims also had Canadian and American citizenship. Their bodies must be returned to their respective countries of origin. The body of the Palestinian driver was handed over to his family for burial in Gaza.

US Government: Two-State solution must be achieved through negotiations

Meanwhile, Washington remains committed to a negotiated solution for an independent Palestinian state. This was stated on Wednesday in Washington by Foreign Ministry spokesman Miller. The Palestinian UN mission had announced the previous day that it would once again seek full membership in the United Nations; this attempt failed in 2011. At that time, the United States, the veto power, and others wanted the Palestinians to make peace with Israel first. In November 2012, the United Nations granted observer status to the Palestinians despite opposition from the United States.

Of the 193 UN member states, 139 have so far recognized Palestine as an independent state. United States and Germany are not included. In a letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Palestinian UN Ambassador Riad Mansur called for the 2011 request to be resubmitted to the Security Council.

Asked if the United States will veto this time, Miller said: “I'm not speculating about what might happen in the future.” At the same time, he emphasized that the US government has always made it clear that it supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel. However, this must be done through direct negotiations between the interested parties, “and not in the United Nations.”

Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu reject a two-state solution. This means that an independent, democratic and peaceful Palestinian state exists alongside Israel.

Israeli Minister Gantz calls for new elections in September

Netanyahu is currently facing strong headwinds at home. In recent days there have been new massive protests against his government. Former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a member of Netanyahu's war cabinet, on Wednesday called for new elections in September. This will provide Israel with international support and reduce divisions within society, Gantz said at a news conference.

However, their demands are initially inconsequential. Netanyahu's conservative Likud party rejected Gantz's request. The party said the government would continue until all the war's objectives were achieved. An early election would paralyze the country and divide society, as well as destroying the possibility of an agreement to free the hostages, he said.

If there were new elections, Gantz would likely become the new head of government, according to recent polls. The next parliamentary elections will not officially be held until October 2026.

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