Israel instructed local authorities in its region bordering Syria to prepare bomb shelters and placed its defense forces at a higher state of readiness on Tuesday, as President Donald Trump officially announced a U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
Israeli authorities had identified “unusual movements of Iranian forces in Syria,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement, according to Reuters. Defense officials responded to the activity by opening shelters along the Golan Heights, which border Syria, and ordering IDF troops to be on “high alert” for an attack.
The order comes amid rising tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran, particularly over the activity of Iran-backed militia inside Syria. Israel has launched airstrikes on Syrian military bases hosting Iranian personnel, killing some Iranian troops. In response, Iran has threatened to attack Israel’s northern frontier via Syrian proxies in the Golan Heights, risking the outbreak of a larger war.
The situation is further complicated by Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a move supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Iran is expected to ramp up its activity in Syria in response to the U.S. pullout from the deal, which could make it more likely that Israel will launch a unilateral strike on Iranian assets there.
Trump announced Washington will re-impose the “highest level” of economic sanctions on the Iranian regime on Thursday afternoon, saying the nuclear deal that lifted them was a “horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.”
Israel fully supports Trump’s “bold decision” to withdraw from the agreement, Netanyahu said, according to ABC News.
“Rather than blocking Iran’s path to a bomb, the deal actually paves Iran’s path to an entire arsenal of nuclear bombs,” he said.
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