A senior Iranian military official warned on today that any Israeli attack would unleash a firestorm of missiles on its cities fired by the Islamic republic's Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.
The Shiite militia has more than 80,000 rockets ready to fire at Tel Aviv and Haifa, said General Yahya Rahim Safavi, military adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"Iran, with the help of Hezbollah and its friends, is capable of destroying Tel Aviv and Haifa in case of military aggression on the part of the Zionists," he said, quoted on state television.
"I don't think the Zionists would be so unintelligent as to create a military problem with Iran," the general said. "They know the strength of Iran and Hezbollah."
Last week, a senior Israeli military intelligence official warned of a heightened threat of conflict over the next two years as a result of "escalation" in the region.
In a briefing to foreign journalists at the defence ministry in Tel Aviv, the official referred specifically to Hezbollah, with whom Israel fought a month-long war in 2006, and to Iran's arming of the group.
"The Iranian threat is a tangible threat to Israel," said the official, whose country has not ruled out the use of military force to block any attempt by Tehran to produce a nuclear bomb.
Israel has opposed the efforts of world powers to strike a deal with Iran curbing its nuclear programme in return for an easing of economic sanctions, saying that Tehran cannot be trusted.
Iran has long asserted that its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy purposes, and that international concern about it seeking a nuclear bomb is misplaced.