In response to a threat of an imminent attack on Israel by Hezbollah, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot fired back at the terror group Monday, promising swift retaliation and “harsh results.”
Eisenkot warned the Iran-backed Lebanese militia that “we stand ready for every challenge.” His remarks followed a speech Sunday night by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who vowed revenge for the alleged Israel Defense Forces airstrike that killed terrorist Samir Kuntar last week.
“The retaliation for Samir’s assassination will inevitably come,” regardless of the “repercussions,” Nasrallah said, in a lengthy televised address marking a week since the death of Kuntar, according to a translation by Lebanese news site Naharnet.
In his speech Monday, Eisenkot admitted that Israel was now in a “complex defense reality,” but said the IDF was prepared to counter any threat.
“Even across our borders, in the face of the threats heard in the north, we stand ready for every challenge. And as we’ve proven in the past, we know how to find those who wish us ill. Our enemies know that if they try to disturb the security of Israel — they will be faced with harsh results,” the army chief said, during a ceremony celebrating the army’s top units for 2015 held in Gelilot, outside of Tel Aviv.
Kuntar shocked the Israeli public in 1979 when he killed 31-year-old Danny Haran in front of his four-year-old daughter Einat, before killing her by bashing her head with the butt of his rifle, in a terror raid on the northern Israeli town of Nahariya. During the attack, Danny’s wife, Smadar, hid with their second daughter. But as she attempted to keep the little girl quiet by covering her mouth, she accidentally suffocated the two-year-old.
Kuntar was released in 2008 as part of an exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, being held by Hezbollah.
Eisenkot did not refer to the terrorist group by name, instead only alluded to it as a threat from the north. The IDF has not taken credit for the airstrike that killed Kuntar, though Israeli officials have approved of the result, claiming that the terrorist was planning fresh attacks against the Jewish state.
The strike against Kuntar, which also killed some eight other operatives, was the latest in a string of alleged Israeli actions in Lebanon and Syria in recent years.
Although officials rarely acknowledge the scope of its actions in Syria, or admit to specific strikes, one official on Monday reportedly confirmed that the Israeli Air Force had struck a Syrian shipment of advanced Russian-made missiles bound for Hezbollah.
“We won’t allow such things,” Foreign Ministry Director Dore Gold was quoted as saying in an interview with the Saudi newspaper Elaph. “Israel won’t allow damage to its sovereignty and won’t allow advanced Russian anti-aircraft weapons, SA-22 missiles, which can threaten our aerial supremacy, to be transferred to Lebanon.”
Shortly after the Elaph report came out, the Foreign Ministry denied that Gold had admitted to the strike. “In the interview with the Saudi newspaper, Dori Gold clarified that Israel won’t allow the transfer of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah and won’t let it be fired upon from Syria,” the ministry said in a statement.