Ne­tanyahu hints Is­rael won’t need U.S.’S OK to hit Iran

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY AMY TEIBEL

JERUSALEM | Is­raeli air­craft and Gaza rocket squads traded strikes across the bor­der on Thurs­day as the Is­raeli prime min­is­ter blamed Iran for the vi­o­lence from the Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory.

Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, go­ing a step fur­ther in his warn­ings to Iran, hinted that Is­rael didn’t need Washington’s bless­ing to go ahead and at­tack Iran’s sus­pect nu­clear pro­gram.

Thurs­day’s cross-bor­der vi­o­lence tested a shaky truce Is­rael and Gaza mil­i­tants reached this week to halt a four-day flare-up in fight­ing. Since then, spo­radic rocket fire and Is­raeli airstrikes have per­sisted.

Is­raeli air­craft struck two mil­i­tant sites in Gaza be­fore dawn Thurs­day in re­sponse to rocket fire a day ear­lier. Gaza gun­men re­tal­i­ated by launch­ing two rock­ets at Is­rael by mid­day, po­lice said.

No in­juries were re­ported on ei­ther side.

In a speech to par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day, Mr. Ne­tanyahu ac­cused Iran of arm­ing, fi­nanc­ing and train­ing Gaza mil­i­tants, and giv­ing them their march­ing or­ders. “Gaza is Iran,” he de­clared.

Is­rael con­sid­ers Iran to be its most fear­some en­emy, in large part be­cause it is con­vinced Tehran is de­vel­op­ing atomic weapons tech­nol­ogy, de­spite its claims its nu­clear pro­gram is peace­ful.

In the U.S. last week, where he met with Pres­i­dent Obama, Mr. Ne­tanyahu was markedly more vo­cal about Is­rael’s will­ing­ness to at­tack Iran’s pro­gram, alone if nec­es­sary, though he said no decision had been made on whether to strike.

On Wed­nes­day, he ratch­eted up the tough talk, sug­gest­ing Is­rael would be ready to at­tack Iran’s nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties even if the U.S. ob­jected.

“Is­rael has never left its fate to oth­ers, not even the best of its friends,” he said, cit­ing Is­rael’s 1981 at­tack on an un­fin­ished Iraqi nu­clear re­ac­tor, which at the time was con­demned by the U.S.

Also Thurs­day, rights ac­tivists said the health of a Pales­tinian de­tainee who has been on a hunger strike for a month is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing.

Hana Sha­l­abi, 30, has re­fused food since her ar­rest by Is­rael on Feb. 16. She is be­ing held with­out for­mal charges in so-called ad­min­is­tra­tive de­ten­tion and is de­mand­ing to be re­leased im­me­di­ately.

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