Hezbollah War With Israel Would Be "Mistake Of Its Life"
Benjamin Netanyahu made the remarks while on a visit to troops in northern Israel near Lebanon border
Hezbollah will make "the mistake of its life" if it starts a war with Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, as tensions continue to surge on the Israel-Lebanon border.
Netanyahu visited troops on the Lebanese border in northern Israel where mounting artillery exchanges have heightened fears of a new war front opening as Israel battles Hamas in Gaza.
The Israeli defence ministry on Sunday ordered 14 additional communities to join dozens that have already been evacuated from the border area.
In the event of scaled up hostilities, Netanyahu said Hezbollah "will make the mistake of its life. We will strike it with a force it cannot even imagine, and the significance for it and the state of Lebanon will be devastating."
Hezbollah is allied with Hamas, which touched off the latest violence with an October 7 rampage that killed at least 1,400 people in Israel, according to authorities.
Israel has retaliated with relentless strikes on Hamas in the Gaza Strip that have killed more than 4,650 Palestinians, according to Gaza's health ministry.
It has in parallel exchanged fire with Hezbollah across its northern border.
Since October 7, the exchanges have killed at least 33 people in Lebanon, according to an AFP tally -- mostly combatants but at least four civilians, including a Reuters news agency journalist.
Another four people have been killed in Israel -- three soldiers and one civilian. Israel has evacuated villages on its side, while several thousand Lebanese have fled border regions for the southern city of Tyre.
The Israeli army on Sunday said its forces "identified a terrorist cell attempting to launch anti-tank missiles toward the Avivim area along the border with Lebanon".
"Soldiers struck the cell before it was able to carry out the attack," it said.
The army also said an anti-tank missile was fired at an Israeli tank "in the area of Har Dov", in the disputed Shebaa Farms border district. The tank returned fire, the army added, reporting no damage or casualties on the Israeli side.
Lebanon's official National News Agency said Israeli aircraft overflew south Lebanon on Sunday and Israel had bombed various sites along the border.
The tit-for-tat attacks have so far been relatively contained, but analysts have warned that Hezbollah could scale up its action if Israel launches a ground invasion of Gaza.
Hezbollah number two Naim Qassem warned Saturday that the group could step up its engagement.
Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus warned that Hezbollah "is dragging Lebanon into a war that it will gain nothing from, but stands to lose a lot.
"Hezbollah is playing a very, very dangerous game. They're escalating the situation. We see more and more attacks every day," he continued.
"Is the Lebanese state really willing to jeopardise what is left of Lebanese prosperity and Lebanese sovereignty for the sake of terrorists in Gaza?" he added.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Sunday that diplomatic efforts were seeking to "stop Israeli attacks on Lebanon" and prevent the Gaza conflict from growing.
"Lebanon's friends are with us in continuing to make every effort to return the situation to normal," Mikati said in a statement.
However, Lebanon was developing an emergency response plan "as a precaution", he added.
Iran-backed Hezbollah fought a war with Israel in 2006 that left more than 1,200 dead in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 dead in Israel, mostly soldiers.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)