JERUSALEM - As tensions continue between the U.S. and Iran, Israel backs President Donald Trump but worries that Iran could use its proxy, Hezbollah, to attack Israel.
Israeli Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu made it clear who’s side Israel is on in a conflict between the U.S. and Iran.
"In the last 24 hours, Iran has intensified its aggression against the United States and against all of us, and I repeat my call for all peaceloving countries to stand by the United States in its effort to stop Iranian aggression. Israel stands by the United States on this," Netanyahu said.
Tensions increased this week when Iran shot down an unmanned American drone. The U.S. says the drone was flying in international airspace, while Iran insists it was in its airspace. The New York Times newspaper reports Friday that President Trump ordered retaliatory strikes on Iran, but called them off at the last minute, after the planes were already in the air. It was not clear why he changed his mind.
Israel's prime minister has been a vocal critic of Iran over the years, accusing the Islamic Republic of sinister intentions at every opportunity. But the outspoken Benjamin Netanyahu has remained uncharacteristically quiet throughout the current crisis between the U.S.
Earlier the president said Iran was clearly in the wrong.
"Iran made a big mistake. This drone was in international waters, clearly, we have it all documented," said Trump. "It’s documented scientifically, not just words and they made a very bad mistake. How will you respond? You’ll find out. Are you willing to go to war with Iran? You’ll find out."
Besides the drone strike, the U.S. says Iran has hit oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz. Amid growing tension, both U.S. and international air carriers said they would change their flight paths to India and China to avoid flying over Iran.
In Israel there is concern that if there is a clash between the U.S. and Iran, Iran could direct the Hezbollah militant group to attack Israel. Iranian officials warned of regional and international implications in the event of a war.
Next week, security chiefs from the U.S., Russia and Israel will meet in Israel. Iran is expected to be high on the agenda.