‘We want deterrence, not revenge’: Israel’s ambassador to the UK warns Iran ‘won’t hesitate to attack London'

15 April 2024, 18:53

Tzipi Hotovely warned that the UK could be the next target of Iran without deterrence
Tzipi Hotovely warned that the UK could be the next target of Iran without deterrence. Picture: LBC/Alamy/Getty

By Kit Heren

Israel's ambassador to the UK has warned that Iran would not hesitate to attack London, as she vowed her government wanted "deterrence" rather than revenge.

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Tzipi Hotovely told LBC's Andrew Marr that "we don’t work here for any revenge - I think it’s not the game. The game here is deterrence."

Israel has approved offensive actions after Iran's attack on Saturday night, with local reports suggesting retaliation could be imminent - despite urging from allies including the US and UK to show restraint.

The ambassador insisted that she was not privy to her government plans - but said "those kinds of things are not the kind of things a country can stand still and say nothing about…"

She added: "No one wants this country to be attacked with missiles, with drones - the same drones hurting Ukraine with the same Iranian drones.

Read more: Rishi Sunak says Iran sought to 'plunge the Middle East into new crisis' with Israel attack as he urges 'restraint'

Read more: Israel must show it is 'prepared to go berserk' on Iran, security minister says, as Rishi Sunak urges 'restraint'

Tzipi Hotovely, UK ambassador to Israel, warns that the UK could be a target for Iran

"We need to make sure our country won’t be paralysed. The country was paralysed Saturday night… people were sleeping in bomb shelters. This is not the way of a modern country to function.

"If we want Israel to function we must make sure this kind of threat won’t exist."

Ms Hotovely called for the allies to help deter Iran by proscribing the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, something Labour has also called for.

Her comments come after Rishi Sunak told MPs that he wanted all sides in the conflict to show restraint. Joe Biden has also said similar, telling Israel to "take the win", after the majority of Iran's 300 missiles and drones were shot down.

Ms Hotovely said: "I think we’re listening very carefully to our friends and our allies, and we’re definitely not into escalating anything."

Tzipi Hotovely
Tzipi Hotovely. Picture: Alamy

But she warned that the UK could also be targeted by Iran if the country was not deterred after its attack on Israel.

The ambassador said: "One thing Britain knows more than any other country in the world - by not doing anything against aggressor, you also can create escalation. So if Iran knows that Israel is easy to target, maybe you’ll be next - maybe the UK will be next…

"You’ve seen it in Ukraine… they won’t hesitate to do it here as well. So we don’t want to see that, we need to make sure they’re deterred."

Israel said Iran launched 170 drones, more than 30 cruise missiles and at least 120 ballistic missiles in an assault that set off air raid sirens across the country on Saturday night.

Israeli Iron Dome air defense system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran, in central Israel, Sunday, April 14, 2024.
Israeli Iron Dome air defense system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran, in central Israel, Sunday, April 14, 2024. Picture: Alamy

By Sunday morning Tehran said the attack was over and Israel reopened its air space having said it had intercepted along with its allies 99% of the projectiles launched towards its territory.

Mr Sunak told MPs that the "fallout for regional security and the toll on Israeli citizens would have been catastrophic" if the attack had been successful.

The PM said Iran - "a despotic regime" - had "shown its true colours" with its barrage of over 300 missiles and drones, and was "intent on sowing chaos in their own backyard".

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak. Picture: Alamy

Mr Sunak said on Monday that the UK and other allies "want to see calmer heads prevail", adding that "we are directing all our diplomatic efforts to that end."

He said that he would "shortly be speaking to Israel's prime minister Netanyahu to express our solidarity with Israel in the face of this attack, and to discuss how we can prevent further escalation."

Mr Sunak reiterated that the UK, along with other allies, took part in defending Israel, destroying several drones and providing "important intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance support". The UK is also moving more RAF aircraft to the region.