Liberman warns Hezbollah next war will end with ‘decisive’ Israeli victory
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Liberman warns Hezbollah next war will end with ‘decisive’ Israeli victory

Defense minister says army's largest exercise in 19 years is crucial for preparedness, sends a message to enemies

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, center, speaks with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, right, as the head of the Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, right, watches on, during a visit to a large IDF drill in northern Israel on September 12, 2017. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, center, speaks with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, right, as the head of the Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, right, watches on, during a visit to a large IDF drill in northern Israel on September 12, 2017. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman issued a stern warning to Hezbollah on Tuesday that a future conflict would “end with a decisive victory for the IDF and the State of Israel.”

The minister made his remarks during a visit to observe a large, ongoing IDF exercise simulating a war with the terrorist group and came a day after he made a separate threat aimed at Syria.

Visiting the IDF’s “Or Hadagan” exercise Liberman said he was “impressed by the preparedness, determination, and professionalism of the different forces and among the commanders.”

The defense minister added that the drill — the military’s largest in nearly 20 years — “is a reminder to anyone who is plotting to harm the security of Israel’s citizens.”

While Liberman did not address Hezbollah by name, as the 10-day exercise specifically simulated a war with the terrorist group, the subject of his warning was clear.

The defense minister was accompanied on his visit by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Northern Command chief Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick and Director-General of the Defense Ministry Udi Adam, who served as head of the Northern Command for most of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

The drill, which began last Tuesday and ends on Thursday, simulated a full-scale war with Hezbollah and included tens of thousands of troops, as well as naval ships and aircraft.

Liberman said it was a “significant tier in the IDF’s preparations for a conflict in the north, if one becomes necessary.”

On Monday night, the defense minister also offered a word of warning to Syria, after the country’s deputy foreign minister threatened that Israel would “pay a heavy price” for its airstrikes in Syria, during a television interview on Sunday.

“I strongly suggest to our neighbors from the north not to try and provoke or threaten us because we take these threats seriously,” Liberman said at a ceremony honoring fallen Bedouin soldiers.

The defense minister warned the Syrians “not to test us.”

“I advise against entering into a confrontation with Israel. It will end badly for them, very badly,” he said.

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