A senior Iranian military official warned on Thursday that any Israeli attack would unleash a firestorm of missiles on its cities fired by the Islamic Republic’s Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.
The Shiite militia has more than 80,000 rockets ready to fire at Tel Aviv and Haifa, said General Yahya Rahim Safavi, military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“Iran, with the help of Hezbollah and its friends, is capable of destroying Tel Aviv and Haifa in case of military aggression on the part of the Zionists,” he said, quoted on state television.
“I don’t think the Zionists would be so unintelligent as to create a military problem with Iran,” the general said. “They know the strength of Iran and Hezbollah.”
Israeli military officials meanwhile have tacitly conveyed a threat to the Lebanese terror group through international media. Last week, the New York Times reported, based on maps and aerial photography from IDF officials, that Hezbollah has moved most of its military infrastructure into and around the Shiite villages of southern Lebanon. According to the paper, Israeli officials say Hezbollah’s move is tantamount to using the civilians as human shields.
The paper quotes Israeli officials saying the IDF will not be deterred from striking at Hezbollah posts, indicating that the villages would be hit even harder than during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Hezbollah, meanwhile, is also mired in fights with rebels of nearly every Sunni group opposing Syrian President Bashar Assad, from Islamic State to the relatively moderate militias seeking to remove Assad from power.
Last week, a senior IDF intelligence official warned of a heightened threat of conflict over the next two years as a result of “escalation” in the region.
In a briefing to foreign journalists at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, the official referred specifically to Hezbollah, and to Iran’s arming of the group. Israel has repeatedly complained to the UN about Hezbollah’s violations of UN Resolution 1701 from 2006, which forbids the group from rearming.
“The Iranian threat is a tangible threat to Israel,” said the official, whose country has not ruled out the use of military force to block any attempt by Tehran to produce a nuclear bomb.