Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Saturday the Lebanese terror group’s response to an alleged recent Israeli drone attack on its Beirut stronghold had been “decided.”
It is about “establishing the rules of engagement and… the logic of protection for the country,” he said in a televised speech, adding that Israel “must pay a price” for the assault.
His comments came in a speech to supporters Saturday night, a week after an alleged Israeli drone crashed on the roof of Hezbollah’s media office in southern Beirut, while another exploded and crashed nearby.
The Iranian-backed group said both drones were armed with explosives and were carrying out an attack mission.
Nasrallah threatened that the response to last week’s events would come from Lebanon and could strike anywhere along the border, including Shebaa Farms, the site of a reprisal attack by Hezbollah in 2015 after several senior members of the group were killed in an airstrike attributed to Israel. Two Israeli soldiers were killed in the retaliatory strike and seven were injured.
Shebaa Farms, known in Hebrew as Mount Dov, and the adjacent Kfar Chouba hills are small patches of land captured by Israel from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967 and kept under Israel’s control since. Lebanon maintains that the strip of land is its territory, though it was under Syrian control from the 1950s until it was captured in 1967 along with the Golan Heights.
The Israel Defense Forces believes Hezbollah intends to again attack Israeli soldiers or a military installation on the border, and not civilians.
Nasrallah also categorically denied Israeli claims about his group having factories to produce precision-guided missiles in Lebanon.
Nasrallah said such accusations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were a “lie” and a “hanger” to justify Israeli aggression against Lebanon.
“We do not have factories to produce precision-guided missiles in Lebanon,” Nasrallah said.
The IDF on Thursday revealed the identities of four senior Iranian and Hezbollah officials involved in a joint project to manufacture precision-guided missiles for the Lebanese terror group, in a dramatic move apparently intended as a tacit threat to the officers. The army warned that the Iranian-led project was “jeopardizing the stability of Lebanon.”
The Israeli military said it was taking the highly irregular step of releasing information about active members of a terrorist plot in order to push the Lebanese government and international community to take action to halt the project.
Netanyahu said exposing the details of the program was meant to send a signal to Israel’s enemies.
“We will not stand to the side and allow our enemies to acquire deadly weapons to use against us. This week, I already told our enemies to be careful with their actions. Now I am telling them: Dir balak,” Netanyahu said, using an Arabic phrase meaning, “Watch out.”
Israel reacted to the repeated Hezbollah threats, postponing on Saturday a massive exercise scheduled for next week and putting its forces on alert.
The military has been on high alert over the past week, restricting soldiers’ movements in vulnerable areas, canceling weekend leave for troops in the IDF Northern Command and reportedly sending artillery and other heavy equipment to the Lebanese border.
“In the past week, IDF troops — including ground, air, naval and intelligence forces — have improved their preparedness for a variety of scenarios in the area of the Northern Command and the Galilee Division,” the army said in a statement.
The IDF exercise planned for this week will instead be merged with another large-scale drill scheduled for September 8 to 12, the army said.
“Reservist who were invited to the exercise have received a message with the updated times for their arrivals,” the IDF said.
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