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IDF searches for terrorist responsible for the death of a 17-year-old Israeli..(Photo by: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF remains on high alert as Nasrallah warns retaliation is inevitable
By ANNA AHRONHEIM,TOVAH LAZAROFF
08/31/2019
Navy and Iron Dome at the ready in North, military closes civilian airspace near border
The IDF has canceled a large-scale exercise, as well as transitioning in its new spokesperson, as tensions remain high along the northern border with Lebanon after Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned that retaliation is “inevitable.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said the military had also begun preparing air, naval and intelligence troops for the possibility of an outbreak of violence in northern Israel, specifically in the Galilee.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi also decided that IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, who was due to be replaced by Brig-Gen. Hadi Zilberman on Tuesday, will remain in his position until further notice.

Northern Command has been on high alert since last week, expecting a limited strike against military targets. On Saturday, a convoy of artillery was seen being moved northward.

In addition to the reinforcement of artillery batteries, Iron Dome batteries have been deployed and leave for combat soldiers in the area has been canceled. The IDF has also closed airspace to civilian flights, closed the civilian airport in Kiryat Shmona and has put the navy on high alert.

The moves are part of the military’s strengthening of power and readiness in anticipation of any retaliation by the Lebanese Shi’ite terror group, which it expects against IDF troops or military installations along the border, but not civilians.

On Saturday night, Nasrallah said the group will retaliate against Israel, which he said claimed responsibility for attacks on Lebanon, Iraq and Syria.

“Normally, we respond from Sheeba Farms, but this time I wanted to say it would be open-ended where we would retaliate from,” Nasrallah was quoted as saying by the Hezbollah affiliated al-Manar television network. “This time it won’t be restricted to coming from Sheeba.”

“The first retaliation on the Israeli aggression would be initiating our right to down Israeli drones,” he continued. “Israel should know that the Lebanese airspace is not open to its drones and the resistance will choose the right time and place to target the Israeli drones in our airspace.”

Israel will “defend itself against aggression against it and [will] prevent its enemies who seek its destruction from arming themselves with lethal weaponry,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement it put out, paraphrasing the content of what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French President Emmanuel Macron during a phone conversation on Friday.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized that those who provide shelter for aggression and arming will not be immune,” the PMO said.

In an interview conducted by his Likud Party and posted on Netanyahu’s Twitter page on Friday, the prime minister said he was working to ensure Israel’s security on all its fronts and against the Iranian threat in neighboring Arab countries.

“I am doing everything to preserve Israel security from all directions,” said Netanyahu. He said this included fighting Hezbollah and Iran in both Lebanon and Syria, and “to my sorrow, also in Iraq against Iran.” Iran is the source of 95% of Israel’s problems, Netanyahu said.

“I am fighting them as no one else has done,” he said, both diplomatically and militarily. “I am leading the fight against Iran in Syria and wherever else is necessary to stop this bitter enemy” that “wants to destroy us.”

Last week, the Israel Air Force carried out strikes against a cell belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps in Syria, which it says was on its way to launch armed drones to attack targets in northern Israel. Two Hezbollah terrorists and an Iranian were killed in the strike.

Two explosive-laden drones crashed and exploded in the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahiyeh in Beirut several hours later. The attack, which reportedly targeted a component of Hezbollah’s precision-missile project, was blamed on Israel by Hezbollah and the government of Lebanon.

But Nasrallah denied the claims, saying that “Netanyahu wants to make the missiles plant claim as a pretext to target Lebanon and break the rules of engagement. We don’t have any plant for making precision missiles, we have enough missiles of that kind.”

Kochavi toured the area on Friday and the head of the Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Amir Baram, warned that Hezbollah and Lebanon would suffer a “harsh response” to any attack.

“You should be preparing not for Hezbollah’s response against the IDF, but for their response to our response” to such an attack, Baram said, vowing that “if an IDF soldier is so much as scratched, our response will be harsh.”

While the military says it believes the response by Hezbollah will be limited to the North, Nasrallah said, “speculations are groundless. We intend to keep the enemy confused as it is now.”

Also on Saturday, a Hezbollah official was quoted by Lebanese media on Friday that the retaliation will take place “deep inside Israel.”

The stance of “Nasrallah has pushed the Zionist enemy to live in a state of extreme terror, panic and caution, to an extent that it has started hiding behind dummies in its military vehicles,” ex-MP Mohammed Yaghi, who is Nasrallah’s executive aide, was quoted by online news outlet Naharnet as saying.

“Our decision is to strike this enemy, which has launched a direct attack on us, on a normal house in [Syria’s] Aqraba and in Beirut’s southern suburbs [through a drone explosion]. This is not a mere threat, but a real action after which the enemy will learn not to commit new follies,” he continued, adding that the group is prepared to respond.

“We have prepared equipment, weapons and personnel to confront the enemy and the resistance is today much stronger than the pre-2006 aggression era,” Yaghi said. “We will let the enemy taste the bitterness and it will regret its deed and aggression very much. They struck deep inside and we will respond deep inside and we will have another response for their drones.”

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