The Hezbollah terror group has recently stepped up construction on military infrastructure near Lebanon’s border with Israel, but the Israeli army will eventually “reduce it to nothing” and make those responsible pay, a senior general threatened Tuesday.
“Recently, Hezbollah has intensified construction on its posts right here along the border,” said Maj. Gen. Amir Baram, the head of the IDF’s Northern Command. “We can see the operatives approaching the border area. We know them: their names, where they come from and where they are working. When the time comes, they will pay the price.”
Speaking at an annual ceremony commemorating those IDF soldiers who lost their lives in the Second Lebanon War, Baram vowed that the IDF will “destroy all the infrastructure” in question and “will reduce it to nothing.”
Baram also aimed a jab at UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping mission which operates along the border between Israel and Lebanon: “Hezbollah is continuing to build its terrorist assets despite the presence of UNIFIL forces close to its positions.”
But, he added, “don’t worry, we never rely on anyone else for our safety.”
The army in the past has accused UNIFIL of failing to stymie Hezbollah activity near the border, despite the terror group being banned from operating in the area.
Baram’s comments come a day after a senior Hezbollah official threatened to use force against Israel amid an ongoing maritime border dispute between Jerusalem and Beirut. He was also speaking just days after the IDF wrapped up a major drill simulating a military offensive in Lebanon in a potential future war.
Hezbollah deputy chief Naim Qassem told Reuters on Monday that it is prepared to use force against Israel if Lebanon determines that its maritime borders have been breached with the arrival of a new gas production rig in disputed waters.
“When the Lebanese state says that the Israelis are assaulting our waters and our oil, then we are ready to do our part in terms of pressure, deterrence and use of appropriate means — including force,” Qassem said in comments to the wire agency.
“The issue requires a decisive decision from the Lebanese state,” he added, noting that Hezbollah, the heavily armed terrorist group in Lebanon backed by Iran, has “urged the government to hurry up, to set a deadline for itself.”
On Sunday, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that Israeli action in the territory represents “a provocation and a hostile act.”
An IDF report released Sunday said that the military is preparing for a Hezbollah attack on the rig and is planning to deploy naval forces to the site, including a sea-borne Iron Dome anti-missile battery. The rig is expected to begin operations within the next few months.
Last week, the IDF held a major military exercise in Cyprus, simulating a ground offensive deep inside Lebanon in a potential war against the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group.
Hezbollah has long represented the IDF’s most significant military threat, with an estimated arsenal of nearly 150,000 rockets and missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel. The exercise’s main goal was to simulate halting Hezbollah rocket fire on Israel amid a major escalation, through a ground offensive in Lebanon. According to military officials, the only way to achieve such a goal was to be “significantly present” in the areas where attacks are being launched from, keeping the enemy far from the border.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.