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Top Iranian Commander Says He Would 'Welcome' an Israeli Strike as Reason to 'Get Rid of' the Jewish State 'Forever

AP

A top Iranian commander said he would "welcome" an Israeli strike against his country's nuclear facilities because it would give Tehran a reason to retaliate and "get rid of" the Jewish state "forever," Iran's news agency reported Saturday.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guard's air force, vowed that Iran's response to an Israeli attack would be "swift, decisive and destructive." At the same time, he called Israel's threats to strike merely a psychological move against Iran, according to the Associated Press.

The commander's comments are the latest in the increasingly hostile back-and-forth between Israeli and Iranian leaders. On Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a "cancerous tumor" that would soon be destroyed. U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor called Ahmadinejad's comments "offensive and reprehensible."

There has been increasing speculation about if and when Israel will strike Iran to take out its nuclear program. Iran maintains the program for peaceful purposes, but Israel sees it as an existential threat. A report last week said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had "almost finally" made the decision to strike.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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