Hezbollah, Israel exchange heated words
BEIRUT - Israel's prime minister warned the head of Lebanon's Hezbollah of his army's "lethal" power on Sunday, in reaction to Hassan Nasrallah cautioning the Jewish state against further strikes in Syria.
"The lethal striking force of the IDF (Israeli army) stands facing Hezbollah," Israel's premier Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
In an interview with Beirut based al-Mayadeen television on Saturday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned Netanyahu: "Don't make an error of judgement and don't lead the region towards war or a major clash."
"At any moment the Syrian leadership and the axis of resistance can take a decision to deal with the Israeli aggression in a different manner," he said, referring to the alliance between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, Iran and its ally Hezbollah.
When asked whether a retaliation could take the form of air strikes on Tel Aviv, Nasrallah said "anything is possible", adding that Hezbollah possessed "high-precision missiles" capable of hitting anywhere in Israel.
Israel's army has since 2013 claimed hundreds of attacks on what it says are Iranian military targets and arms deliveries to Tehran-backed Hezbollah, with the goal of stopping its main enemy Iran from entrenching itself militarily in neighbouring Syria.
Netanyahu said Nasrallah was experiencing "great consternation" over Israel's recent operation to expose and destroy tunnels from Lebanon to Israel.
He also spoke of what he called Hezbollah's "financial distress" and the Jewish state's "determination".
"Believe me, Nasrallah has good reasons not to want to feel the might of our arm."
Earlier this month Israel concluded an operation to unearth and destroy tunnels which the army accused Hezbollah of digging across the border from Lebanon.
Nasrallah had on Saturday acknowledged "there are tunnels in southern Lebanon," refusing to specify who built them and when, and mocking Israel for taking "many years" to find them.
A month-long war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Nasrallah's appearance followed news reports in Israel and elsewhere that his health was failing and that he was seeking treatment from serious illness. The head of Hezbollah dismissed the reports as "lies."