Netanyahu Cuts Short Greece Trip in Wake of Killing of Top Iranian Commander Soleimani

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to cut short his planned trip to Greece and return to Israel on Friday after a U.S. strike in Iraq killed the leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, Major-General Qassem Soleimani.

>> Top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani killed in U.S. airstrike in Iraq

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett is convening Israel's top military brass Friday morning for a situation assessment after Tehran vowed "crushing revenge" for the assassination. Bennett will meet with Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and senior security officials at the military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu has instructed members of the security cabinet not to speak publicly about the events.

Israel Army Radio said the military had gone on heightened alert. The army decided to close Mount Hermon to visitors Friday, out of fear of a response from Iranian-backed groups in Lebanon and Syria; however no other instructions were given to citizens living in the north of the country. Residents of the Golan Heights have reported that their cellphones, internet and landlines have all been operating much more slowly than usual.

Israel has raised its security alert levels at its missions abroad.

Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem, November 12, 2019.Ariel Hermoni / Defense Ministry

The assassinations are a potential turning point in the Middle East and are expected to draw severe retaliation from Iran and the forces it backs in the Middle East against Israel and American interests.