‘Hezbollah is playing with fire,’ Netanyahu warns after terror group attacks in north

“Any attack against us will be met with great strength,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

By Ebin Sandler, World Israel News

Following an attempted cross-border attack on Monday by members of Hezbollah, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz addressed the nation, threatening the Lebanese terror group and its host nations with a decisive counter-strike.

“Hezbollah is playing with fire. Any attack against us will be met with great strength,” said Netanyahu at the outset of the address.

Netanyahu continued, “Nasrallah already made a major mistake in underestimating Israel’s determination to defend itself and Lebanon paid a heavy price for this. I suggest that he not repeat this mistake.”

Lowering his face mask, Gantz also addressed reporters, stating, “Israel is determined to prevent any threat to our sovereignty, our soldiers, and of course our citizens.”

“Lebanon and Syria are independent nations and are responsible for all terror activities within their borders,” Gantz continued, referring to neighbors that harbor the Iran-backed terror proxy.

Gantz added, “Anyone who threatens the IDF, endangers himself and the nation within which he operates. I repeat, the IDF is ready to respond, the IDF is ready to strike.”

The defense minister concluded, “The IDF will continue to act, in every place they are called upon, near or far.”

The Israeli leaders addressed the nation just hours after Hezbollah operatives tried to breach the Israel-Lebanon border, exchanging fire with IDF troops during an hour-long stand-off in an area called Mount Dov, which was named after Dov Rodberg, an Israeli officer who was killed there in 1970.

Israeli citizens in the vicinity were ordered to remain indoors until security officials could confirm the threat had been contained.

Hezbollah denied that its forces took part in the thwarted operation, issuing a statement claiming that Israeli reports about the failed infiltration “are attempts to invent illusive victories,” The Associated Press reported.

Prior to the failed attack on Monday, Israel remained on high alert for a response from Hezbollah, which vowed to avenge the killing of one of its members in an airstrike in Syria last week that Israel has been blamed for.

On Monday, the terror group added that it is still planning to retaliate for the deadly strike in Syria, saying “the Zionists should remain waiting for the punishment for their crimes,” reported the AP.

Meanwhile the United Nations’ forces in Lebanon (UNFIL) said its commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col maintained lines of communication with both Israel and Hezbollah during the incident on Monday and sought to elicit “maximum restraint” from both sides.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria since 2017, with an eye to uprooting the Iranian military presence on its doorstep and stopping weapons shipments headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

IDF international spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said on Monday that the IDF “successfully thwart[ed] an attempt to infiltrate into Israeli territory” by terrorists entering from the north.

“We know for a fact that they were armed and crossed the Blue Line into Israel,” Conricus said in comments to reporters, using the term the United Nations uses for Israel’s border with Lebanon.

On Sunday, Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting, “We are constantly monitoring what is happening on our northern border. When I say ‘we’, that means myself, the Defense Minister, the Chief-of-Staff – all of us together.”

The prime minister concluded, “Lebanon and Hezbollah will bear the responsibility for any attack against us emanating from Lebanese territory. The IDF is prepared for any scenario. We are active in all arenas for the security of Israel – both close to our borders and far from them.”