A Hezbollah fighter stands in front of anti-tank artillery at Juroud Arsal, the Syria-Lebanon border..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hezbollah has called an article written by IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis and published on Lebanese opposition websites “provocative words published by a coward.”
“The article is nonsense and a provocation that is published by someone who is a coward,” Hajj Muhammad Raad, the head of Hezbollah’s “Loyalty to Resistance” Lebanese Parliamentary bloc, wrote on the Ahewar website on Monday.
“Israel should not act foolishly and complicate itself in a war that will be destructive for it,” he said. “Hezbollah is stronger today and has capabilities that can destroy the Israeli Army. Israel today has become a regional and international isolationist, and the media spins that come out of it are meant to cover up its distress, because it wants to present itself as strong.”
On Sunday, an article written by Manelis appeared on several Arab-language media outlets, including being published on the Hezbollah- friendly al-Masdar website and broadcast on the Voice of Beirut radio station.
“The authority of the Zionist entity, whatever it tries, will not be able to persuade the Arab-Muslim peoples to give up the idea of resisting the Zionist occupation,” Raad wrote. “The day will come when Hezbollah’s flag will be raised over the honorable city of Jerusalem and the Palestinians will regain their occupied land.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday stated that Israel was using “all the options” available to it to prevent the production of missiles in Lebanon by Iran and Hezbollah.
“With regard to everything related to Lebanon, we can prevent not only by means of bombs, but by operating all the political leverages and others in order to prevent missile production,” he said at the beginning of the Yisrael Beytenu parliamentary group’s meeting.
While Liberman stated that “the last thing I want is for a third Lebanon war,” Israel is “determined to prevent Lebanon from becoming one large factory for the production of precision missiles.”
Manelis urged Lebanese citizens to recognize that their fate is “in the hands of a dictator sitting in Tehran,” which alongside its proxy Hezbollah has turned Lebanon into a large missile factory.
“The ordinary citizen will be mistaken to think that this process turns Lebanon into a fortress,” Manelis wrote in his Sunday op-ed, adding: “It is nothing more than a barrel of gunpowder on which he, his family and his property are sitting.”
“In Lebanon, Hezbollah does not conceal its attempt to take control of the state,” he continued. “In the shadow of Nasrallah’s bullying behavior” the group has built “terror infrastructure and factories to manufacture weapons under the nose of the Lebanese government.”
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah. They have stressed that both are red lines for the Jewish state.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would discuss Iran’s efforts in Lebanon with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their upcoming meeting at the Kremlin, telling reporters before leaving for Moscow that this was something Israel would not tolerate.
Netanyahu said that he will also speak with the Russian president about Iran’s “unending efforts to militarily entrench itself in Syria, something that we are adamantly opposed to and will act against.”
He will be accompanied by Military Intelligence Directorate chief Maj.-Gen. Hezi Levy; Environmental Protection and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin; National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat; and Military Secretary to the Prime Minister Brig.-Gen. Eliezer Toledano.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.