The head of the Hezbollah terror group warned Saturday that it would respond to any “stupid act” by Israel amid spiking tensions along the border.
“Israel is still occupying parts of Lebanese lands and brazenly talks about provocations,” Hassan Nasrallah said, according to the Ynet news site.
“I say to the Zionists: ‘Beware of any stupid step or decisions of one kind or another, the resistance does not take its responsibility for responding and liberating lands, lightly. We are ready for any option and we will not remain silent in the face of any stupid act,'” Nasrallah said in an address to mark the Shiite festival Ashura.
Tensions on Israel’s border with Lebanon have risen recently after Hezbollah set up tents in Israeli territory.
Israel has sought since early June to remove two tents placed by Hezbollah in the contested Mount Dov region, also known as the Shebaa Farms. One tent was removed after Israel reportedly sent a message to Hezbollah threatening an armed confrontation if it did not remove the outpost.
However, earlier this month, Nasrallah said the other tent would remain, and threatened to attack Israel if it tries to remove it.
Israel and Lebanon do not have a formal border due to territorial disputes; however, they largely abide by the United Nations-recognized Blue Line between the two countries. The Blue Line is marked with blue barrels along the border and is several meters from the Israeli fence in some areas, which is built entirely within Israeli territory.
The area where the tents were erected was captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War and later effectively annexed along with the Golan Heights and the village of Ghajar. The Lebanese government says the area belongs to Lebanon.
While Israel and Lebanon recently concluded tough talks to demarcate a maritime frontier, the enemies have never negotiated a land border, leading to occasional skirmishes along the ceasefire line that forms the de facto border.
In addition, earlier this week, Israel Defense Forces troops filmed camouflaged Hezbollah members walking along the border near the northern Israeli town of Dovev last week. The troops did not engage the terror group patrol.
On Tuesday, Nasrallah gloated that Israel was on the “path to disappearance” after the passage of the first judicial overhaul law led to chaotic protests.
“Israel was once thought of as a regional power that can’t be beaten, and regional countries accepted its threat as a fact that can’t be removed,” Nasrallah said.
He added that “its trust, awareness and self-confidence have deteriorated into the crisis it is experiencing today.”
Nasrallah, whose own country has been mired in years of devastating political bedlam and has seen its own spasms of protests, branded Monday Israel’s “worst” day since the state’s creation.
On that day, the Israeli government enacted its “reasonableness” law, which bars the courts from reviewing politicians’ decisions based on their “reasonableness,” despite sustained mass protests, opposition by many top judicial, security, economic and public figures, and over 10,000 IDF reservists saying they will suspend their voluntary duty in protest.
Chaos erupted on the streets after the vote, with police clashing with thousands of protesters blocking major highways in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and around the country.
Many observers and opposition members have lamented that the issue has divided society in a way that will be difficult to overcome, and top military officials have said the damage done to the service model of the Israel Defense Forces will take many years to remedy.
In addition, the Military Intelligence Directorate reportedly sent four letters to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning of the security consequences of his coalition’s judicial overhaul plans, the latest arriving days before the Knesset approved the first piece of controversial legislation earlier this week.
Senior intelligence officials warned that Israel’s enemies, particularly Iran and its proxy terror group Hezbollah, sense a historic opportunity to shift the balance of power in the region in their favor, amid deep, unprecedented divisions in Israeli society due to the overhaul plans, which they interpret as weakness, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Friday, without citing sources or quoting from said letters.
According to the reported assessments, Israel’s enemies view the summer of 2023 as a historic low point in the country’s history, and officials are concerned that serious harm may be caused to its deterrence.
Although intelligence officials think Iran and Hezbollah prefer to stand back and allow the crisis to destroy Israel from within, the risk of escalation is believed to be the highest since the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, it said.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.