Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to strike Lebanon if Hezbollah provokes the Jewish state, Haaretz newspaper reported on Monday.
Netanyahu said he believes that Hezbollah is a part of the Lebanese government, warning the government that it will be held “responsible for whatever happens in its jurisdiction.”
The Israeli premier’s message was relayed through “a Western diplomat he met in Jerusalem several weeks ago,” Haaretz reported.
According to a senior official who was close to the meeting between Netanyahu and the U.S. official, if if the resistance party should attack Israel, Netanyahu said the Israeli army would “strike back forcefully – without differentiating between Hezbollah and the state of Lebanon.”
Earlier this month, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah vowed to turn the Jewish state into a “living hell” if Lebanon was attacked, threatening to kill “thousands of Israelis.”
Nasrallah was speaking on the occasion of Jerusalem Day, marked each year on the last Friday of Ramadan in accordance with a tradition established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late supreme leader of Iran.
The Hezbollah leader addressed Israel, saying: “War with Lebanon would be very, very, very costly.”
“There are targets in occupied Palestine (Israel) which could be targeted by a small number of missiles,” Nasrallah said.
“If we are forced to use them to protect our people and our country, we will not hesitate to do so… and that will turn the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists into a living hell,” he said in a speech marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day.
Nasrallah warned of “tens of thousands of deaths, and not just 300 to 500 dead,” adding that Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and Syria, had fixed its targets.
Israel, the only Middle East country outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has never confirmed or denied having nuclear weapons.
“Hitting these targets with a small number of rockets will turn … the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists to real hell, and we can talk about tens of thousands of dead,” said Nasrallah.
In case of any Israeli attack on Iran over its controversial nuclear program, “the response will be enormous,” he warned. Any such action would present the Islamic republic with “the opportunity is has been dreaming of” since it was founded in 1979.
Israel and Lebanon are officially in a state of war, and the Jewish state fought a devastating war with Hezbollah in the summer of 2006.
Last month, Israel accused Iran and Hezbollah of planning attacks in “over 20 countries” in remarks just days after a deadly attack in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and their local bus driver.
Iran denied the charges but Hezbollah refused to comment.