On September 20th, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed a “crushing blow” if Hezbollah uses its “precision rockets.”
Netanyahu’s promise came in response to the words of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah.
Nasrallah said that despite Israel’s best efforts to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining advanced armaments, the militia possesses “precision and non-precision rockets and weapons capabilities.”
“No matter what you do to cut the route [flow of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah via Syria], the matter is over,” he further commented. He went on to warn Israel of a fate “it has never expected” if Israel launches a war against Lebanon.
Netanyahu lashed out strongly at Hezbollah’s claims: “I heard Hezbollah’s bravado. It came from the same person who said after 2006 [Second Lebanon War] that if he knew what Israel’s response would be to the kidnapping of our three soldiers, he would have thought consider twice whether to do it. So today I suggest that he think not twice but twenty times, because if he confronts us he will get a crushing blow that he cannot even imagine.”
Also on September 20th, at a Yom Kippur War memorial ceremony, Netanyahu also said that Israel will act with full force if war is imposed upon it: “We must make every effort to prevent war, but if it is imposed upon us, we will act with full force against those who would kill us.”
Following the latest Israeli airstrikes on targets in Syria, the Hezbollah leader gave a televised address, mostly talking about the group’s role and future in Syria.
“We will stay there (in Syria) even after the settlement in Idlib. Our presence there is linked to the need and the consent of the Syrian leadership,” Nasrallah said in an address broadcast on Lebanese media on September 19th.
The Hezbollah chief also insisted that “no one can force us out of Syria,” though he suggested they are reducing the size of their commitment of troops due to “the quietness of the fronts and less number of threats.”
Israeli leaders have said they will not allow “game-changing” weapons, such as guided missiles, to reach Hezbollah. Despite their vows, it does appear that Hezbollah has, in fact, received such weapons.
Nasrallah also reiterated the group’s support for Iran, which was hit by US sanctions after Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Iran Nuclear Deal. He also once again objected to Trump’s peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is to be unveiled in September.
As reported by Sputnik, Hezbollah is a Lebanon-based Shia group founded in the 1980s, which has engaged earlier in several military conflicts with Israel. While it is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, Hezbollah is recognized as a legitimate political party in Lebanon and enjoys close relations with Iran.
This all follows a rare admission from Israel that it was behind the September 17th attack that downed a Russian IL-20 jet, killing 15 troops.
In the video responding to Nasrallah, Netanyahu also spoke about Israel’s relationship with Russia, referring to the condolences he offered Russia’s President Vladimir Putin Tuesday in a phone call: “On my behalf of and on behalf of the citizens of Israel, I expressed my condolences for the deaths of 15 Russian air crew members whose plane was shot down by Syrian fire. I told him that the root of the problem was Iran’s attempt to use Syrian territory for attacks against Israel and to arm our enemies like Hezbollah. I told him that we have the right to self-defense, and yet it was very important to maintain the security coordination between Israel and Russia. I therefore decided to send the commander of the air force, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, to Moscow, in order to continue to protect our citizens while maintaining cooperation between the two countries.”