Hezbollah accuses Israel of pushing region to war

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 01.10.2017 20:17

Lebanon's Hezbollah accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government yesterday 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.

Tensions have risen this year between Iran-backed Hezbollah and its arch enemy Israel, which last fought a major conflict in 2006. Israel has said it would use all its strength from the start in any new war with Hezbollah.

In a speech to followers, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan 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.

In June, Nasrallah said a future Israeli war against Syria or Lebanon could draw thousands of fighters from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan.

Israel is concerned by Tehran's steadily increasing influence in the region during the six-year-old Syrian conflict, whether via its own Revolutionary Guard forces or the groups it backs, especially Hezbollah.

He called on Jews who emigrated 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 added, they might not have long to leave. "They will have no secure place in occupied Palestine," he said.

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.

Over the last months, tensions between Lebanon and Israel have increased since the latter reckons that the Hezbollah was gaining strength as Iran increased its influence in Syria and Lebanon. Israel unveiled the latest missile defense system called "David's Sling," designed to shoot down medium-range missiles possessed by Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

Israel has been targeting Iran-backed Shiite militia group Hezbollah and regime forces in Syria with concerns that Hezbollah might target Israel at any given moment with new weapons supplied by Iran and Russia. The country has mounted dozens of air raids to prevent weapons smuggling to Hezbollah, which is fighting rebels alongside the Syrian army. However, the interception of a missile making its way over the Syrian border was an uncommon incident.

As long as Iran has the power to dominate Damascus and mobilize Shiite groups, there will eventually be conflict with Israel. During the 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah fired more than 4,000 rockets on Israeli communities, while Israel bombarded militant targets in southern Lebanon. The month of fighting killed an estimated 1,300 Lebanese, 44 Israeli civilians and 121 Israeli soldiers.

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