Iran's Defense Minister Amir Hatami on Sunday threatened on Sunday to "raze" the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa "to the ground" if Israel launches a preemptive attack against the Islamic Republic, i24NEWS reports.
At the same time, Hatami also played down the chances of direct hostilities breaking out between the two countries, saying Israel is well aware of the potential consequences of such actions.
“Sometimes, the Zionist regime [Israel] out of desperation makes big claims against the Islamic Republic of Iran to allegedly threaten it,” said the Iranian Defense Minister.
“It must know that if it does a damn thing, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground,” he warned.
Hatami added that Iran has enough resources to “maintain the stability of the country” and boasted of its regional power via “resistance groups.”
His comments came three days after Defense Minister Benny Gantz told Fox News that Israel may be forced to take unilateral action against Iran's nuclear program if the world fails to address it.
Gantz said that Israel has identified numerous targets inside Iran that would hurt its ability to develop a nuclear bomb.
"If the world stops them before, it's very much good. But if not, we must stand independently and we must defend ourselves by ourselves," he added.
Hatami’s comments also follow the recent incident in which a cargo ship owned by an Israeli firm was attacked with a missile while sailing through the Gulf of Oman, an attack that has been blamed by Israeli officials on Iran.
This is not the first time that Hatami or other Iranian officials have threatened Israel. In 2019, the Iranian Defense Minister warned that the formation of a US-led flotilla in the Gulf would "increase insecurity" and that any Israeli involvement would have "disastrous consequences" for the region.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is notorious for his attacks on Israel as well. He has several times in the past referred to the Jewish state as a “cancer” and threatened to "annihilate" Tel Aviv and Haifa.
The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, General Hossein Salami, has warned that Iran is ready to strike the United States and Israel if they give it any reason to do so.