Middle East

Ex-Israeli defense chief: Netanyahu scaring the public

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits at the scene of Wednesday's shooting attack at a Tel Aviv restaurant, Thursday, June 9, 2016. Israel on Thursday imposed travel restrictions on tens of thousands of Palestinians and sent hundreds of additional troops into the West Bank in response to a deadly shooting at a popular Tel Aviv tourist spot, but as the nation's leaders vowed tough responses, they stopped short of taking wider scale military action. (AP Photo/Tomer Appelbaum)   ISRAEL OUT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits at the scene of Wednesday's shooting attack at a Tel Aviv restaurant, Thursday, June 9, 2016. Israel on Thursday imposed travel restrictions on tens of thousands of Palestinians and sent hundreds of additional troops into the West Bank in response to a deadly shooting at a popular Tel Aviv tourist spot, but as the nation's leaders vowed tough responses, they stopped short of taking wider scale military action. (AP Photo/Tomer Appelbaum) ISRAEL OUT  (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

Israel's newly resigned defense minister has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of exaggerating the country's security threats to distract attention from other issues.

In his first major address since he was forced to step down last month, Moshe Yaalon said on Thursday that he plans on challenging Netanyahu in the country's next election.

Yaalon told a security conference that Israel is the strongest country in the Middle East and neither Iran nor anti-Israel militant groups present existential threats to Israel.

The former defense minister says it's "expected of the leadership to stop scaring the citizens of Israel and giving them the sense that we are on the brink of a second Holocaust."

Instead, he says he considers the biggest threat to Israel to be "cracks in Israeli society."