Israel warned Lebanon’s Hezbollah on Thursday against attacking the Jewish state after the leader of the Iranian-backed militant group threatened to strike its nuclear reactor.
The comments by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah marked the first time his group explicitly threatened to target the reactor in the southern Israeli town of Dimona.
Israel and Hezbollah battled to a stalemate during a monthlong war in the summer of 2006. The war broke out after Hezbollah gunmen crossed into Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers. The ensuing conflict killed about 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis before ending in a United Nations-brokered cease-fire.
“If Nasrallah dares to fire at the Israel homefront or at its national infrastructure, all of Lebanon will be hit,” Yisrael Katz, Israel’s Minister of Intelligence, said in response to Nasrallah’s threats.
The Israel-Lebanon border has remained mostly quiet since the 2006 war but there have been sporadic outbursts of violence.
Dimona nuclear reactor
Nasrallah on Thursday called on Israel to “dismantle the Dimona nuclear reactor,” warning that it poses a threat to Israel’s existence if hit by Hezbollah ‘s missiles in any confrontation.
“Israel is continuing to launch threats against Lebanon and speak of the third Lebanon war and of what it will do during this third war… This intimidation is not new and it seems that there is a permanent Israeli objective to pressure the resistance community in Lebanon, and after (Donald) Trump was elected U.S. president, this intimidation has returned,” said Nasrallah in a televised speech commemorating Hezbollah ‘s slain leaders.
“We’ve been hearing these threats since the end of the July 2006 war. Every other day we hear statements about the third Lebanon war and about the coming vengeance. The new threats are based on the election of Trump, but the policy of the new American administration in the region is not clear,” Nasrallah added.
“Trump’s election does not scare us, even if claims that he will give (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu the green light to wage a war on Lebanon turn out to be true, seeing as the issue of war on Lebanon is not hinging on the American permission,” Hezbollah ‘s chief noted.
He also noted that the alleged “Arab cover” that “allowed Israel to attack Lebanon in 2006 is also still present.”
“The issue is not about the U.S. permission or the Arab cover but rather whether or not they will be able to achieve a victory. This is the main question,” Nasrallah pointed out.
Commenting on an Israeli court’s order that an ammonia tank in the northern city of Haifa be emptied of its toxic content, Nasrallah also advised Israel to “dismantle the Dimona nuclear reactor,” warning that it poses a threat to Israel’s very existence if hit by his group’s missiles.
And questioning Israel’s ability to send ground troops into Lebanon in any future war, Nasrallah stressed that “aerial war alone cannot decide the fate of the battle and cannot achieve victory.”
“Had it not been for the Syrian army’s fighting on the ground in Syria, it would not have been able to achieve decisive victory,” he noted.
“I tell the enemy’s leaders that they would be mistaken if they think that they have enough information about the resistance, seeing as we always have hidden surprises, which is part of our strategy and military creed,” Nasrallah warned.