Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday fired back at Israel following a series of warnings from Jerusalem directed at his Lebanese terror group.
At a conference earlier this week, Military Intelligence chief Aharon Haliva said Nasrallah was “close to making a mistake that could plunge the region into a big war,” and on Tuesday the IDF dropped flyers in southern Lebanon warning against border incursions.
Speaking at a “Liberation Day” marking the 23rd anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal of military forces from southern Lebanon, Nasrallah said Israeli leaders should “be careful and not make wrong calculations.”
“The Israelis must retract their threats and give up their arrogance,” Nasrallah said, according to Naharnet.
“Any mistake might blow up the entire region,” he added, directly addressing Haliva’s remarks.
Taking a shot at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Hezbollah chief claimed Israel “failed to restore deterrence” during fighting earlier this month against the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, leading to the Israeli warnings.
“The deterrence equation is what’s protecting Lebanon,” he said.
Nasrallah also said: “You are not the ones to threaten a grand war; we are the ones who rather threaten you with it.”
The speech came after Haliva assessed Monday that “the chances of an escalation that could deteriorate into war is not low,” and that, as far as Nasrallah is concerned, a recent flareup on the Israel-Lebanon border may not be over.
Haliva alluded to Nasrallah’s past comments that Hezbollah’s abduction of two Israeli soldiers on the border in 2006, which set off the Second Lebanon War, was a mistake, but said he is now starting to believe the balance of power can be tested.
“The story of the terrorist at the Megiddo Junction isn’t a one-off,” Haliva told the Herzliya conference, referring to a bombing attack in March that seriously injured a man, and is suspected to have been orchestrated by Hezbollah. “Nasrallah is close to making a mistake that could plunge the region into a big war. He is close to making this mistake from Lebanon or Syria.”
Haliva’s remarks came a day after Hezbollah invited media outlets to cover a major drill simulating war with Israel, claiming it was ready for a potential conflict with the Jewish state.
Also Friday, the Israel Defense Forces said troops downed a small drone that flew over the border from Lebanon.
In an image shared by the army, the drone appears to be a commercially available quadcopter manufactured by Chinese company DJI.
Defense officials have previously noted that at least some of the drones the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group uses for surveillance purposes are commercially available devices.
There was no statement from Hezbollah or affiliated media outlets on the drone downing.
Lebanon and Israel are technically in a state of war and the heavily guarded border is commonly penetrated by drones from both sides.
Lebanon regularly complains about Israeli surveillance drones invading its airspace, but the IDF maintains that such incursions are necessary to track the activities of Hezbollah, which the Lebanese government is supposed to keep in check.