The Secretary-General of the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon has described the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) as being at their “worst”. Hassan Nasrallah made his comment on Monday during a televised speech on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of Israel’s July 2006 War against Lebanon.
“If you enter a new war with Lebanon,” he addressed Israel, “you will go back to the Stone Age.” He added that the Israeli military is currently “at its worst compared with the past.”
Nasrallah added that had it not been for the historic victory of July 2006, the process of demarcating the maritime borders [with the occupation state] and starting undersea exploration would not have been possible. What prevents “the enemy” from encroaching on Lebanon’s rights is its understanding that any attempt to do so will be met with a strong response.
The Hezbollah leader’s statement was a response to similar statements made by Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant earlier this month. Gallant warned Nasrallah against making any mistakes, threatening to take Lebanon back to the Stone Age in the event of an escalation or conflict, according to a report in the Times of Israel.
The July War broke out after Hezbollah fighters captured Israeli soldiers at the border, which led to a major military confrontation between the Lebanese movement and the IDF that lasted 33 days.
Lebanon and Israel signed an agreement last October to demarcate the maritime border between them, following indirect negotiations mediated by the US that lasted for two years. The talks followed a dispute over an area rich in oil and natural gas in the Mediterranean measuring about 860 square kilometres. A floating platform is expected to reach Block 9 off the southern Lebanese coast to start exploration and drilling for gas.
Hezbollah controls Lebanon’s southern border with Israel. The area has recently witnessed heightened tension following mutual accusations of provocation as a result of bulldozing operations carried out by Israel in areas that Lebanon insists are within its sovereign territory.