Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed a threat by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’ to capture the Galilee on Wednesday, telling a meeting of American Jewish leaders that “I have news for you – he won’t.”
Just hours after Nasrallah voiced his threat; Netanyahu – switching from English to Hebrew – mocked the Hezbollah leader who has remained in hiding pretty much since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, telling the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem that “everyone hiding in a bunker should stay in the bunker.”
'Hezbollah will conquer Galilee if there is war'
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No one, Netanyahu said, should doubt Israel’s ability to defend itself. “We have a strong army, and a united people. We want peace with all of our neighbors, but the IDF is ready and prepared to defend Israel against all our enemies,” he said.
Nasrallah said he was prepared to invade northern Israel, a day after Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that the quiet along the tense border could erupt into violence.
“I tell the holy warriors of the Islamic Resistance to be ready for a day when, if war is imposed on us, your command might ask you to control the Galilee area,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Barak toured the IDF’s Northern Command and told soldiers there that the quiet along the frontier might not last.
“This is not forever and it could under certain conditions deteriorate,
and then you will have to be called on again, with everything you
learned in training,” he said.
“Today the units are better
trained and more prepared, but there is always more to be done and you
need to be ready for every test.”
Nasrallah’s speech was
broadcast to a rally commemorating the killing of three Hezbollah
leaders, including the 2008 assassination of the group’s top military
commander, Imad Mughniyeh, in a car bomb blast in Damascus.
Hezbollah and its primary patron, Iran, have blamed Israel for Mughniyeh’s killing. Israel has denied involvement.
Nasrallah repeated his threats to Israel that Hezbollah will avenge Mughniyeh’s assassination.
decision is still ours and, God willing, it will be carried out. I tell
Zionist leaders and generals to watch out for your heads wherever you
go in the world and whenever you go,” he said. “Imad Mughniyeh’s blood
will not be wasted.”