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Netanyahu Compares Israel Defense Against Iran to Book of Esther, Slams IAEA Chief


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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply criticized remarks by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who suggested Saturday that a potential Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would be "illegal."

Speaking at Sunday's cabinet meeting, as Israelis prepared to celebrate Monday and Tuesday's Purim holiday, Netanyahu compared Israel's defense against Iran today to the story of Esther in the Bible, when she convinced the Persian king to reverse an edict that called for all Jews to die.

Netanyahu said, “2,500 years ago an enemy arose in Persia who sought to destroy the Jews. They did not succeed then, neither will they succeed today,”

The prime minister asked, “Is Iran, which openly calls for our destruction, permitted to defend the destructive weapons that would slaughter us? Are we permitted to defend ourselves? It is clear that we are, and it is clear that we will do so.”


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He was responding to comments made in Tehran over the weekend by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi. According to a JNS News report, Grossi spoke at a joint press conference with Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Director Mohammed Eslami, saying, “I think any attack, any military attack on a nuclear facility is outlaw[ed]—is out of the normative structures that we all abide by.”

The IAEA and Iran said in a joint statement that they would work in a "spirit of cooperation," despite the IAEA's own report issued Feb.28, which warned that Iran had enriched uranium to a level near 84 percent and could possibly manufacture a nuclear bomb within 12 days.

Netanyahu called Grossi "a worthy gentleman who said something unworthy."

Meanwhile, Ynet News military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai published a column Sunday saying the Biden administration has concerns that Israel would not notify them before carrying out a strike to prevent Iran from going nuclear. The column cites a visit to Israel this past Friday by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Mark Milley, who met with top Israeli defense officials, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

After the meeting, Gallant said, "Ongoing cooperation is required in order to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon." He thanked Milley for his commitment to the security of Israel.

The Ynet column quoted a senior Israeli defense official who said the White House and the Pentagon fear an Israeli surprise attack on Iran while the U.S. and its allies are heavily invested in Ukraine and the rise in tensions with China.

Also on the eve of Purim, Sheik Nasrallah, the leader of the terror group Hezbollah and Iran's proxy in Lebanon, pronounced the demise of Israel in an address Monday. Nasrallah pointed to the internal Israeli strife over judicial reform and other issues and said, "Everything that is happening in Israel is a sign of the end of the entity."

He added that the Israeli cabinet's approval of the death penalty for terrorists "will only increase the Palestinians' desire to carry out more jihad actions."

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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel fulltime for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and

About The Author


John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN New since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.