Hezbollah chief tells Jews to flee before Israel devastated by war
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Hezbollah chief tells Jews to flee before Israel devastated by war

Nasrallah says Israel underestimates strength of Lebanese terror group, accuses Netanyahu of leading country to destruction

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is displayed on a cellphone as he delivers a message via video link, during the ninth of Ashura, a 10-day ritual commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, September 30, 2017.  (AP/Hassan Ammar)
Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is displayed on a cellphone as he delivers a message via video link, during the ninth of Ashura, a 10-day ritual commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, September 30, 2017. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group on Sunday warned Jews living in Israel to leave the country as soon as possible before a destructive war between the Jewish state and his organization takes place.

Hassan Nasrallah, speaking to mark the Shiite holy day of Ashura, said that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was leading the region toward a devastating war.

Addressing “non-Zionist Jews,” Nasrallah said, “I call on anyone who came to occupied Palestine to leave it and return to the lands you came from, so you will not be the fuel for any war waged by your foolish government.”

He said Hezbollah’s conflict is not with the Jewish people but with the Zionist government of Israel, offering those who do not support the political ideology of Israel as a Jewish homeland the opportunity to flee before armed conflict begins.

Supporters of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah watch a video screening of a speech by the group’s head, Hassan Nasrallah, to mark the 11th anniversary of the end of the 2006 war with Israel, in the village of Khiam in southern Lebanon, August 13, 2017. (AFP/Mahmoud ZAYYAT)

Nasrallah warned that “Netanyahu’s government is leading your people to devastation and destruction,” and added that the Israeli prime minister was “trying to lead the region into war in Syria and Lebanon.”

The leader of the terror group, who frequently boasts that his forces are ready for another round of conflict with Israel, said Israel’s military has not correctly assessed Hezbollah’s military might.

“Netanyahu and his government do not know how the war will end if they start one, and they do not have an accurate picture of what to expect should they embark on the folly of war,” Nasrallah said.

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah is seen on a giant screen broadcasting his speech on May 20, 2016 in a southern suburb of the capital Beirut during a memorial ceremony to mark a week since slain Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine (portrait) was killed in an artillery attack near Damascus. (Joseph Eid/AFP)

Israeli officials have warned Hezbollah that it would be devastated if it tests Israel in a war, as tensions have risen over the group establishing a foothold in southern Lebanon and southern Syria along with Iran.

Israel last fought a full-scale war with Hezbollah in 2006’s Second Lebanon War, and tensions have remained high even as the northern border has remained relatively quiet since.

Hezbollah is believed to have an arsenal of between 100,000 and 150,000 short-, medium- and long-range missiles and a fighting force of some 50,000 soldiers, including reservists.

A Hezbollah commander said last month that the group has more than 10,000 fighters in southern Syria ready to confront Israel.

Israel worries Hezbollah and its backer Iran could launch a war against the Jewish state from southern Syria.

Fighters of the Shiite Hezbollah terror group attend the funeral of a comrade who died in combat in Syria in the southern Lebanese town of Kfar Hatta on March 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmoud Zayyat)

Netanyahu has reportedly been negotiating with his counterparts in the United States and Russia in an attempt to establish an Iran-free area around surrounding the border, but to no avail.

Earlier this month, tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers participated in the largest military drill since 1998, simulating war with Hezbollah for 10 days.

A Hezbollah supporter listens to Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, pictured, as he delivers a message via video link, during the ninth of Ashura, a 10-day ritual commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

On Saturday, Nasrallah accused Israel and the United States of orchestrating a controversial referendum on support for independence in Iraq’s Kurdistan.

Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence in the nonbinding, symbolic referendum, which sent regional tensions soaring. Iran, Turkey and Syria have all rejected it.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report. 

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