Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Sunday of pushing the region to war in Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip and said nowhere in Israel would be safe if such a conflict were to erupt.
With Hezbollah actively fighting in Syria and Israel concerned that it, along with its patron Iran, will try to establish a permanent presence there, tensions between Israel and the terrorist organization have risen this year.
In a speech to followers, Nasrallah said the Israeli government did not have “a correct assessment of where this war will lead if they ignite it,” and did not know how it would end.
“They do not have a correct picture about what is awaiting them if they go to the idiocy of this war,” Nasrallah said.
Israel does not know where such a conflict would be fought, or who would take part, he added.
Netanyahu answers Hezbollah chief Nasrallah: We will aggressively retaliate to any attack
According to Nasrallah, “Even the Zionist entity acknowledges that Hezbollah is the second army in the region, so we are not talking out of weakness. I call upon political parties not to be driven through incitement for such adventure because the outcome of such confrontation is well known.”
Formed in the 1980s with the help of Iran as a resistance group against the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has since morphed into an army-like organization having battalions and brigades with thousands of battle-hardened fighters and advanced weaponry spread across the Middle East.
Nasrallah said earlier this year that a future Israeli war against Syria or Lebanon could draw thousands of fighters from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan, and could take place inside Israel.
In his speech Sunday, he called on Jews who immigrated to Israel to “leave and return to the countries from which they came so they are not fuel for any war that the idiotic Netanyahu government takes them to.”
Were war to erupt, he said, they might not have long to leave. “They will have no secure place in occupied Palestine,” he said.
Nasrallah also said that the Shi’ite Lebanese terrorist group wouldn’t remain silent on the continued Israeli “threats to Lebanon” and its “continued aggression in Syria under the banner of preventing the resistance from obtaining military capabilities.”
Israel has hit at least 100 Hezbollah targets, believed to be arms convoys headed to the group in Lebanon or weapons depots in Syria over the past five years.
“Israeli spying devices which have been recently uncovered are a dangerous threat to Lebanon,” he said, adding, “We will not abandon our country; if this issue is not politically solved then we will deal with it.”
Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant (Kulanu) responded to Nasrallah, saying that he was a “marked man,” and that Israel would “take off the gloves” in the next confrontation with Hezbollah.
“Nasrallah speaks from his bunker, and he has good reasons to do so,” said Gallant, a former general. “If he makes a mistake and starts a war, we will send Lebanon back to the Stone Age.”
Following similar threats by Nasrallah in February, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said that if Nasrallah dared to fire at Israel’s home front or attack its national infrastructure, “all of Lebanon will be hit.”
And in July, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon told a Saudi website that if Iran – which controls Hezbollah – drags it and Lebanon into a war with Israel, “every Lebanese [person] will suffer from the next war because all infrastructure will be destroyed.”
Nasrallah was speaking on Sunday on the occasion of Ashura, when Shi’ites commemorate the slaying of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, the Imam Hussein, at Kerbala in 680.
Netanyahu said in August that Iran was building sites to produce precision-guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon, with the aim of using them against Israel.
Tens of thousands of Shi’ites wearing mourning black marched through the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut to commemorate Ashura, when Hezbollah rallies supporters around its political causes.
Men with boxes of tissues weaved through the crowds, handing them to those weeping in mourning.
“All of these crowds are answering Nasrallah’s call, Hussein’s call, saying we are ready to give our selves and souls and blood and children and all we own in sacrifice to this religion,” said Deeb Hussein al-Annan, whose son was killed fighting for Hezbollah in Syria in 2014.
“We are defending the cause and our existence [in Syria],” he added, holding a flag emblazoned with a picture of his son.
The group’s role in Syria is the focus of controversy in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s opponents say it has dragged Lebanon into the conflict. Hezbollah says it has stopped extremist groups such as Islamic State from advancing into Lebanon from Syria.
Nasrallah said the battle against Islamic State must continue “in every place to eliminate Daesh,” using an Arabic acronym for the group.
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