(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday warned Israel it would be uprooted if the Jewish state attacked Lebanon in the coming summer.
"If you think that by bombing and assassinating Palestinian leaders you are preparing ground for new attacks on Lebanon in the summer, I am telling you that you are seriously wrong," Ahmadinejad told a crowd in the city of Isfahan.
"If this year you repeat the same mistake of the last year, the ocean of nations of the region will get angry and will cut the root of the Zionist regime from its stem," added Ahmadinejad, speaking live on state television.
Referring to the history of Israel, Ahmadinejad said that "60 years of invasion and assassination is enough. If you do not cease invasion and massacre, soon the hand of power of the nations of the region will rub you criminals with earth."
There has been no indication so far of any eventual new Israeli-Lebanese conflict but Ahmadinejad's comments came as IDF troops arrested more than 30 senior Hamas members in the West Bank early Thursday, including a Cabinet minister, legislators and mayors, pressing forward with an offensive against the Islamic group.
Ahmadinejad is well known for his verbal attacks on Israel.
In October 2005, he raised outrage in the West when he said in a speech that Israel's "Zionist regime should be wiped off the map." His supporters and some independent analysts have since argued Ahmadinejad's words were mistranslated from Farsi and should have been better translated as "vanish from the pages of time", implying Israel would vanish on its own rather be destroyed.
The Iranian hard-liner appears to be stepping up his confrontational tone in recent days - at a time when Teheran faces renewed pressure by the UN Security Council over its controversial uranium enrichment program and just days before first direct Iran-US talks on Iraq security issues on Monday in Baghdad.
The United States, which has long accused Iran of providing sophisticated explosives to militants in Iraq, has also increased its military presence in the Gulf as a show of force in Iran's face.