Ideas. Stories. Community.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The deaths of Iran's president and others are being closely watched in Israel


As you might imagine, the death of Iran's president and foreign minister is being closely watched in Israel.


Just last month, Iran and Israel traded attacks, came close to a full-on war. Now Iran's government is in transition, to say the least, while Israel's is in turmoil. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing accusations from his own war cabinet that he doesn't have a strategy for replacing Hamas as the ruler of Gaza.

MARTIN: So let's go and add NPR's Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv for the latest from there. Good morning, Daniel.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Good morning, Michel.

MARTIN: So how is Israel responding to the news out of Iran?

ESTRIN: Well, publicly, Israel is not saying anything, but off record, officials have been telling Israeli media that Israel had nothing to do with this helicopter crash. And Israeli analysts say that they don't expect any major changes. I mean, Iran's proxies - the Houthis, Hezbollah - have been waging low-grade war with Israel throughout the entire Gaza war. But there is a lot of concern in Israel about instability in Iran now. Israel's opposition leader Yair Lapid met with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and Lapid told him Iran will enter a period of instability and he said the strategic relations between the U.S. and Israel are more important than ever.

MARTIN: OK, but let's talk about instability within Israel's own leadership. There's been some very public criticism over Israel's war in Gaza. Tell us more about that.

ESTRIN: Yeah, growing discontent about Netanyahu's exit strategy for the Gaza war. Netanyahu has a war cabinet with two other members and both of those members are now openly challenging him, and one is former army chief Benny Gantz. Here's what he said in a speech this weekend.


BENNY GANTZ: (Non-English language spoken).

ESTRIN: He said, Prime Minister Netanyahu, I look you in the eyes tonight and I tell you the choice is in your hands. And Benny Gantz gave him a three-week ultimatum. He said he would quit the government and demand early national elections if there is no plan to replace Hamas with international and local Palestinian supervision. The defense minister in Israel said similar criticism late last week.

MARTIN: How does this seem to be affecting Netanyahu's government and the war?

ESTRIN: Well, if Benny Gantz does follow through and quit the government, Netanyahu can still hold onto power in Israel. But it would just leave Netanyahu more dependent on his own far-right partners, who want something very different for Gaza. They want full Israeli control of Gaza, not even moderate Palestinians taking charge. They want even Israeli settlements in Gaza. And so that could leave Netanyahu with very little room to maneuver U.S. demands on Gaza.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Netanyahu this weekend and said there needs to be a political strategy for Gaza's future. He said more aid needs to get into Gaza. The U.S. military has started delivering aid by sea, but the Biden administration says the aid getting in is not enough to address the threat of famine in Gaza. And the U.S. says over 800,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah in Gaza in just the last two weeks. Fighting is still fierce in Gaza, Michel, Israeli strikes against Hamas. But also women and children have been killed recently according to officials there. We're nearly eight months into the war and there's no end in sight.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv. Daniel, thank you as always.

ESTRIN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.