Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah issued a warning to Israel on Tuesday, after the Israel Defense Forces held an exercise simulating a war with Hezbollah in a clear threat to the Lebanon-based terrorist group.
“Israel’s home front needs to know that if there is a war with Hezbollah, it will see things it has not seen since the establishment of Israel,” Nasrallah said.
“We don’t seek a fight with Israel, but if it starts a war, we will fight,” Nasrallah said, according to Channel 13.
“If Israel bombs cities in Lebanon, we’ll bomb cities in Israel, and if it bombs villages in Lebanon, we’ll bomb towns in Israel. If the IDF bombs our military targets, we can also attack Israel’s military targets,” Nasrallah said.
“No one can guarantee that a few days of combat between us and Israel won’t lead to a wider war,” he said. “We’re following [events] and weighing our decisions. We won’t accept something that will put our country in danger.”
Nasrallah spoke from an undisclosed location via a live video feed in line with his usual security protocols.
The Israeli Air Force completed a three-day surprise exercise simulating a large-scale war against Hezbollah this week, including mock strikes on some 3,000 targets in one day, the military said, in a clear threat to the Lebanese terror group.
The hypothetical incident that kicked off this fictional conflict was Hezbollah shooting and damaging an Israeli aircraft — something the terrorist militia tried to do earlier this month when it fired anti-aircraft missiles at an IAF Heron unmanned aerial vehicle.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, dozens of aircraft — fighter jets, cargo planes, helicopters and drones — took part in the exercise, called “Galilee Rose.” They were operated and assisted by conscripted and reservist forces, who were called up on short notice after the drill was announced on Sunday.
“During [the exercise], intense fighting was simulated, along with offensive operations, scenarios involving defending the country’s airspace, command and control operations, precise planning and wide-scale, powerful strikes. In addition, strikes on thousands of targets and the launching of many weapons were practiced to simulate war on the northern front,” the military said.
A senior air force official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the level of intensity shown in the exercise was unprecedented. To wit, the drill simulated the bombing of some 3,000 targets over the course of 24 hours, whereas in the more than month-long 2006 Second Lebanon War, roughly 5,000 targets were struck in total.
The exercise also simulated Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel, including the firing of cruise missiles and other advanced munitions, as well as standard, albeit massive rocket launches at both military and civilian targets in the Jewish state, the senior air force officer told reporters.
The surprise exercise came amid lingering tension in the region between Israel and Hezbollah over the death of one of the terror group’s operatives in Syria last summer, in an airstrike widely attributed to the IDF. The Israeli military believes Hezbollah still intends to exact revenge for the death of its fighter in order to deter Israel from future strikes.
After years of the terror group being relative cautious, the IDF believes that it has grown increasingly emboldened, though it still does not want to enter into a full-blown war with Israel. This was on display on February 3, when Hezbollah fired on the Israeli drone as it was flying over southern Lebanon.
In that case, the military refrained from retaliating. This week’s exercise, simulating a massive retaliation to such an attack, was seemingly meant to signal to the terror group what would happen if it again fired upon an Israeli drone.