We Are Going To Wipe You Off The Face Of The Earth, Israeli Minister Threatens Iran

Palestine Child
A Palestinian man holds the body of his child next to others killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair), ASSOCIATED PRESS

Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat said on Sunday that the Israeli forces would “eliminate” Hezbollah and target Iran if the Palestinian militants open up a “northern front.”

“The plan of Iran is to attack Israel on all fronts. If we find they intend to target Israel, we will not just retaliate to those fronts, but we will go to the head of the snake, which is Iran,” Barkat told The Mail on Sunday. He added, “the ayatollahs in Iran are not going to sleep good at night” if they move against Israel.

Barkat warned that Lebanon and the pro-Palestinian militant group Hezbollah “are going to pay a heavy price, similar to what Hamas is going to pay.”

Israel would go “after the heads of Iran” if necessary, the minister said. “Israel has a very clear message to our enemies. We are saying to them, look what is happening in Gaza – you are going to get the same treatment if you attack us. We are going to wipe you off the face of the Earth.”

The statement came after Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Monday that the security situation for Israel may worsen very quickly. “If the war crimes against the Palestinians are not immediately stopped, other multiple fronts will open and this is inevitable,” he said. 

The Iranian diplomat later doubled down, warning the U.S. and Israel that, if they do not stop mistreating the Palestinians, “anything is possible at any moment and the region will go out of control.” Amir-Abdollahian added that further escalation would have “far-reaching repercussions.”

The IDF and Hezbollah have repeatedly exchanged fire since the fighting erupted between the Israeli forces and Hamas earlier this month. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Sunday that Hezbollah would suffer “unprecedented destruction” if it officially joins the war against the Jewish state.

The Israeli army made several large-scale incursions in Lebanon to fight the militants there in the past. The most recent invasion took place in 2006.

On October 7, Hamas and allied groups including Islamic jihad attacked multiple Israeli settlements, prompting Israel to begin airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. More than 1,400 Israelis and over 4,300 Palestinians have been killed, according to officials from both sides. 

Pentagon Warns Iran Against Escalating Israel Crisis

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has warned that American forces in the Middle East face increased risk of being attacked as Iran and its allies in the region look to exploit the turmoil created by the Israel-Hamas war.

Bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria have already been targeted in rocket and drone attacks in recent days, and the Pentagon is concerned about further escalation of the Israel crisis, Austin said on Sunday in an ABC News interview. “In fact, what we are seeing is the prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our people throughout the region, and because of that, we are going to do what is necessary to make sure that our troops are in a good position, they are protected, and that we have the ability to respond.”

Shortly after Hamas launched surprise attacks against Israel on October 7, the Pentagon dispatched two aircraft carriers, five guided missile destroyers and other ships to the eastern Mediterranean Sea. One of the strike groups, led by the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier, was redirected to the Persian Gulf on Saturday, and the Pentagon said it activated additional missile batteries in several undisclosed locations to help protect U.S. forces in the region.

“The additional deployment sends another message to those who seek to widen this conflict,” Austin said. He added, “If any group or any country is looking to widen this conflict and take advantage of this very unfortunate situation that we see, our advice is: Do not. We maintain the right to defend ourselves, and we would not hesitate to take the appropriate action.”

The USS Carney destroyer, located in the Red Sea, shot down three missiles and several drones that were launched from the region of Yemen controlled by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on Thursday. The missiles were traveling north, potentially toward targets in Israel, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Antony Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed Austin’s concerns, saying Washington expects additional attacks on American troops by Iranian-backed groups. “We are taking steps to make sure that we can effectively defend our people and respond decisively if we need to,” he said on Sunday in an NBC News interview. “This is not what we want, not what we are looking for. We do not want escalation. We do not want to see a second or third front develop. We do not want to see our forces or our personnel come under fire, but if that happens, we are ready for it.”

The U.S. State Department ordered the departure of all non-emergency government staffers and their families from Iraq on Sunday. The department issued a similar order for its embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil on Friday, citing increased security threats. The department’s updated travel advisory warned Americans against going to Iraq, citing security risks and the limited capacity of U.S. diplomatic installations in the country to provide support to US citizens.   

Gaza Conflict May Spin Out Of Control, Says Iranian Foreign Minister

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has accused the U.S. of waging a “proxy war against Palestinians” and warned that the situation will get out of hand if the bombardment of Gaza is not stopped and Israel launches the ground assault it is preparing for.

Speaking at the joint press conference with his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor in Tehran on Sunday, the Iranian top diplomat said that it was a “bitter and unfortunate reality” that U.S. President Joe Biden made an “extraordinary wartime visit” to Tel Aviv this week to show support for the Benjamin Netanyahu government amid the bombardment of the Palestinian enclave and lack of humanitarian aid.

“It is a great shame that the American president announced that the U.S. would dispatch hundreds of planes, ships and trucks filled with military equipment to the occupied territories to support the mass murder that coordinate plans for only 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to enter the besieged enclave,” he noted.

Amir-Abdollahian called the situation in the region a “powder keg” and warned of “heavy and bitter consequences.”

“If he U.S. and the Israeli regime do not stop their crimes against humanity immediately, there will be a possibility of anything at any moment and the region may spin out of control,” Amir-Abdollahian argued.

Hezbollah And Israel Exchange Fire And Warnings Of A Widened War

An earlier AP report said:

Hezbollah announced the deaths of five more militants as clashes along the Lebanon-Israel border intensified and the Israeli prime minister warned Lebanon on Sunday not to let itself get dragged into a new war.

The tiny Mediterranean country is home to Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim political party with an armed wing of the same name. Israeli soldiers and militants have traded fire across the border since Israel’s war with the Palestinian group Hamas began, but the launches so far have targeted limited areas.

Hezbollah has reported the deaths of 24 of its militants since Hamas’ bloody Oct. 7 rampage in southern Israel. At least six militants from Hamas and another militant group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and at least four civilians have died in the near-daily hostilities.

Hezbollah has vowed to escalate if Israel begins a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, which is likely, and Israel said it would aggressively retaliate.

“If Hezbollah decides to enter the war, it will miss the Second Lebanon War. It will make the mistake of its life,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday as he visited troops stationed near the border with Lebanon. “We will cripple it with a force it cannot even imagine, and the consequences for it and the Lebanese state are devastating.”

Hezbollah and Israel fought a month long war in 2006 that ended in a tense stalemate.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported that small arms fire was heard along the tense border coming from near the Lebanese village of Aitaroun toward the northern Israeli town of Avivim where key military barracks are located. Meanwhile, Israel shelled areas near the southeastern Lebanese town of Blida.

Israel sees Iran-backed Hezbollah as its most serious threat, estimating it has some 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.

Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus accused the group early Sunday of “escalating the situation steadily.” He said the recent cross-border skirmishes had produced both Israeli troop and civilian casualties but did not provide additional details.

Hezbollah on Sunday posted a video of what it said was a Friday attack targeting the Biranit barracks near the Lebanon-Israel border, the command center of the Israeli military’s northern division. Footage shared by the group showed an overhead view of a strike on what it described as a gathering of soldiers.

During a video briefing, Conricus said the group has especially attacked military positions in Mount Dov in recent days, a disputed territory known as Shebaa Farms in Lebanon, where the borders of Lebanon, Syria, and Israel meet.

“Bottom line is … Hezbollah is playing a very, very dangerous game,” he said. “(It is) extremely important for everybody in Lebanon to ask themselves the question of the price. Is the Lebanese state really willing to jeopardize what is left of Lebanese prosperity and Lebanese sovereignty for the sake of terrorists in Gaza?”

The international community and Lebanese authorities have been scrambling to ensure the cash-strapped country does not find itself in a new war.

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has yet to comment on the latest Hamas-Israel war, though other officials have. Hezbollah legislator Hassan Fadlallah said Sunday said Nasrallah’s silence was part of a strategy to deter Israel from Lebanon and to “prevent the enemy from reaching its goal in Gaza.”

“When the time comes for his His Eminence (Hassan Nasrallah) to appear in the media, should managing this battle require so, everyone will see that he will reflect public opinion,” Fadlallah said.

Hezbollah Is Already In The Heart Of Israel-Hamas War, Says Hezbollah Deputy Leader

Another AP report said:

A top official with Hezbollah vowed that Israel will pay a high price whenever it starts a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip and said Saturday that his militant group based in Lebanon already is “in the heart of the battle.”

The comments by Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Kassem, came as Israel shelled and made drone strikes in southern Lebanon and Hezbollah fired rockets and missiles toward Israel. Hezbollah said six of its fighters were killed Saturday, the highest daily toll since the violence began two weeks ago.

For Hezbollah, heating up the Lebanon-Israel border has a clear purpose, Kassem said: “We are trying to weaken the Israeli enemy and let them know that we are ready.” Hamas officials have said that if Israel starts a ground offensive in Gaza, Hezbollah will join the fighting.

Exchanges of fire along the Lebanon-Israel border have picked up in the two weeks since the attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas that killed over 1,400 civilians and soldiers in southern Israel. Retaliatory Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have killed more than 4,000 Palestinians.

There are concerns that Iran-backed Hezbollah, which has a weapons arsenal consisting of tens of thousands of rockets and missiles as well as different types of drones, might try to open a new front in the Israel-Hamas war with a large-scale attack on northern Israel.

Kassem said his group, which is allied with Hamas, already was affecting the course of the conflict by heating up the Lebanon-Israel border and keeping three Israeli army divisions tied up in the north instead of preparing to fight in Gaza.

“Do you believe that if you try to crush the Palestinian resistance, other resistance fighters in the region will not act?” Kassem said in a speech Saturday during the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter. “We are in the heart of the battle today. We are making achievements through this battle.”

On Friday, the Israeli military announced the evacuation of a border city where three residents were wounded in the crossfire a day earlier.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported that an Israeli drone fired a missile on a valley in the Sejoud area, about 20 kilometers north of the Israeli border. Hezbollah did not immediately confirm the attack, but if true it would mark a major escalation as it is deep inside Lebanon and far from the border.

An Associated Press journalist in south Lebanon reported hearing loud explosions Saturday along the border, close to the Mediterranean coast.

Hezbollah said its fighters attacked several Israeli positions and also targeted an Israeli infantry force, “scoring direct hits.”

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported Israeli shelling of several villages and said a car took a direct hit in the village of Houla. On Saturday evening, shelling intensified around an Israeli army post across from the Lebanese village of Yaroun.

Hezbollah said six of its fighters were killed Saturday, raising the total of Lebanese militants killed to 19 since Oct. 7.

Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee said a group of gunmen fired a shell into Israel and an Israeli drone was launched back toward them. A drone also was dispatched after another group of gunmen fired toward the Israeli town of Margaliot, Adraee said.

“Direct hits were scored in both strikes,” Adraee posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Hezbollah’s Kassem spoke about foreign dignitaries who visited Lebanon over the past two weeks asking Lebanese officials to convince the group not to take part in the latest Hamas-Israel battle. He said Hezbollah’s response to Lebanese officials was, “We are part of the battle.”

“We tell those who are contacting us, ‘Stop the (Israeli) aggression so that its (conflict) repercussions and possibility of expansion stops,’” Kassem said, referring to the officials who recently visited Beirut, including the foreign ministers of France and Germany.

Speaking about an expected Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, Kassem, said: “Our information are that the preparedness in Gaza by Hamas and resistance fighters will make (the) Israeli ground invasion their graveyard.”

Hezbollah Is Dragging Lebanon Toward War, Says Israel

A Bloomberg report said:

Israel said Hezbollah risks dragging Lebanon into a wider regional war after another night of intense cross-border fire with the Iran-backed militant group.

As Israel’s military battles Gaza-based Hamas, following the group’s deadly attacks on southern Israel on Oct. 7, it has also been facing the threat to the north posed by Hezbollah, which last fought a war with its neighbor in 2006.

Israel reported that anti-tank missiles were fired again from Lebanon Sunday and that it had intercepted a drone. In one of its most serious warnings yet, the military said Hezbollah was “playing a very, very dangerous game” and “dragging Lebanon into a war that it will gain nothing from but stands to lose a lot.”

More than 60,000 people in Israel have been evacuated along the border with Lebanon including Kiryat Shmona, the area’s largest city, and residents of an additional 14 communities are set to leave, according to the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Israel shelled border villages late Saturday, reaching areas deep into southern Lebanon primarily Jezzine, Tyre and Bint Jbeil. About 1,500 Lebanese and Syrian families took refuge in schools in Tyre that the municipality had set up in anticipation of worsening violence, Lebanese state-run National News Agency reported.

One of the Middle East’s most powerful militias, Hezbollah is funded by Iran and is also represented by a political party in Lebanon with an extensive network of schools, hospitals, social services and even local lenders. Along with its allies, Hezbollah is one of the most influential parties in the country and has the majority and military might to block any government or parliament decision.

Lebanon’s government, which exerts little to no influence over Hezbollah’s armed wing, has said it was preparing an emergency plan in the case of a war. Lebanon’s national carrier Middle East Airlines has parked some of its fleet in Turkey and authorities have discussed ways to secure its infrastructure and trade routes.

At a televised news conference Sunday a Hezbollah lawmaker said the group’s goal was to prevent Israel from achieving its goals in Gaza. Speaking in southern Lebanon, Hassan Fadlallah also praised the residents for offering “the best of their sons” to face Israel.

Hezbollah has been attacking Israeli army posts and border towns on a daily basis for the past two weeks and has attempted to send drones into Israeli airspace. The series of attacks started a day after Hamas, which is designated a terrorist group by the U.S. and European Union, launched an unprecedented incursion into Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 people and abducting dozens more.

Israel responded with an intense bombing campaign on the blockaded Hamas-run Gaza Strip, killing thousands of people. Israel is widely expected to launch a ground invasion, something Iran has said would further escalate tensions.

Caretaker Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the government was holding talks with Arab and international parties to stop Israel’s attacks on the southern region and prevent the war spilling over further into Lebanon.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Mikati late Saturday and “noted growing concern over rising tensions along Lebanon’s southern border,” according to the State Department.

Israel’s military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said the fighting with Hezbollah “is mainly in the contact line.” Hezbollah has adopted similar rhetoric, saying the clashes remain within the so-called “rules of engagement,” which limits the battle to Lebanese areas Hezbollah considers occupied.

Hezbollah has so far not entered real combat with Israel probably because it is sensitive to public opinion in Lebanon where people are worried what a war of that kind would cause according to Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser in Israel.

“Hezbollah is aware that if a full scale war emerges in Lebanon, it will bring devastation to the city of Beirut. Beirut will look like Gaza,” Eiland, a retired general and now a media commentator, told journalists at a briefing late Saturday.

Hezbollah has said it has 100,000 fighters and a stockpile of missiles that could reach all of Israel. Its involvement in the Syrian war alongside President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces has given its fighters more experience in guerrilla warfare, experts say.

Hezbollah’s last war with Israel in 2006 left more than 1,000 dead in Lebanon, and more than 100 in Israel, as well as triggering mass displacement and damage. While the group claimed victory back then and enjoyed popular support in the Arab world, some of that landscape is different today.

The group’s fighting against Syria’s popular uprising dented its image in parts of the Middle East. In Lebanon its critics blame the group for the country’s financial crisis and say Hezbollah is to blame for Arab benefactors like Saudi Arabia withholding much-needed funding for Lebanon.


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