The Israeli security cabinet has started to hold its meetings in an underground bunker in Jerusalem, amid heightened tensions with Iran.
The decision, made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was reportedly motivated by a desire to avoid any possible security leaks, particularly as officials reportedly move to formulate policy and decide Israel’s red lines with regard to Iran and Syria.
The Security Cabinet first used the facility, known as the “National Management Centre”, in 2011 to rehearse a national crisis scenario. It was carved out beneath the government complex in Jerusalem and includes living quarters as well as command facilities.
Since then, two meetings of the 11-member forum have already been held there, with a third scheduled for later today, according to Army Radio.
Earlier this month Israel accused Iran of firing rockets from Syria into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Israel struck back with its heaviest air strikes in Syria since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman later claiming that Israel had destroyed almost Iran’s entire military infrastructure in the country.
Israel has repeatedly struck Syrian army locations in the course of the conflict, hitting convoys and bases of Iranian-backed militias that fight alongside Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces; on 9 April, an Israeli strike killed seven Iranian military personnel at a Syrian airbase, with Tehran vowing to retaliate.
Israel has accused Iran of seeking a permanent military presence in Syria, and expanding its influence via a belt of territory that stretches from Tehran, through Iraq, Syria and onto Lebanon.
Following the US’ exit from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, an Iranian official said yesterday that his country had made all necessary preparations to resume production of highly-enriched uranium.
The statement came on the same day that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a lengthy list of demands that Iran must fulfil prior to the creation of a new nuclear deal.