August 27, 2019

Netanyahu warns Hizbollah after its leader threatens response to Israeli strikes within days
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister, has told Hizbollah’s leader to “calm down” after he said his movement was preparing a response within days to Israeli strikes.  Mr Netanyahu warned Hassan Nasrallah, secretary general of the Lebanese Shia group, to "be careful" with their words and actions. "I want to say to him and the Lebanese state, which is hosting this organisation that aims to destroy us, (...) Be careful about your words, and even more cautious about your actions,” he said on Tuesday. “He knows very well that the state of Israel knows how to defend itself well, and to repay its enemies.” Tensions between the two sides are more fraught than usual after Israel was accused of carrying out a drone attack on a Hizbollah facility in Beirut on Sunday and of striking an armed Palestinian faction in eastern Lebanon - its first such hostile action since the 2006 war. Investigators of Lebanon's military intelligence inspect the site after an alleged attack carried by two Israeli drones, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon Credit: Rex The Israeli military has been regularly flying drones over neighbouring Lebanon since the month-long Summer War of 2006, but had limited its activity to reconnaissance. In a speech made on Sunday, Nasrallah, whose group receives funding and support from Tehran, issued Israel with a threat: "I say to the Israeli army on the border from tonight, stand guard (on high alert). Wait for us one, two, three, four days.”  Lebanon's President Michel Aoun, meanwhile, called Israel’s actions a "declaration of war". The attacks on Lebanon came days after a Israeli strike on Hizbollah units in Syria which left two members dead and on Iran-allied militia groups in Iraq - an unprecedented flurry of activity that raises fears of a wider conflict.  Mr Netanyahu has pledged to stop Israel's arch-enemy Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria. He has also warned of Tehran’s proxies in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem Credit: Reuters Israel, which has hit targets in Syria hundreds of times but rarely claims responsibility, immediately claimed the strike near Damascus on Sunday, saying it was to thwart an imminent drone strike against Israel. Any new conflict between Israel and Hizbollah would be much more costly for both sides than the 2006 war. The militia has grown considerably in strength in the last 15 years - thanks to Iranian arms shipments - and is now represented in Lebanese parliament. Israel has said that it would now see the whole of Lebanon as fair game in any future war.
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