Iranian cleric Ayatollah Seyed Ahmad Khatami delivers a sermon.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a senior member of Iran's Assembly of Experts, threatened that Hezbollah "will turn Haifa and Tel Aviv into ghost-towns" with the group's 70-kilometer range missiles in a sermon Friday.
"You've tried your chances twice," and failed, Khatami said, according to an Iranian Student News Agency report. "Despite the fact that Hezbollah is stronger today than ever, if you want Tel Aviv and Haifa razed to the ground, try your chances again."
The report states that Khatami was responding to a statement by Israel that conflict with Hezbollah is possible in the coming year
. "This year has the potential for escalation, and not necessarily because either side wants to initiate it, but because of a gradual deterioration. This has led us to raise the level of preparedness,” the head of IDF operations, Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, told Army Radio.
An Israel-Hezbollah war could draw in Iran, U.S. intelligence warns, March 14, 2018
Commenting on the IDF's killings of Palestinians in the ongoing "Great March of Return" protests in the Gaza Strip, Khatami said: "The Zionists can only be answered with the language of resistance and force."
Adding to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's threat that Israel will not survive another 25 years, Khatami added: "Perhaps it is God's will that, with all the madness they are causing, [Israel] will be destroyed even before."
Hezbollah currently possesses an arsenal of approximately 150,000 missiles.
Israel last fought the Lebanese Shi'ite militia group in the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Khatami also denounced Saudi Arabia for its increasingly close ties with Israel in the wake of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman's statement
that "Israelis have the right to have their own land."
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