Israel defense minister Yoav Gallant threatened a heavy cost for the Lebanese if Hezbollah “crossed the red line” as the leader of the group was delivering a speech.
The Israeli army and Iran-backed Hezbollah have clashed almost daily since Israel started its war on Gaza in retaliation for the Hamas attack on 7 October.
Gallant held a press conference Saturday afternoon local time, almost the same time as Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah delivered his televised speech.
“Hezbollah is close to making a grave mistake and the ones who will pay the price are first of all the citizens of Lebanon,” Gallant said. “What we do in Gaza we know how to do in Beirut.”
Both sides issued statements and videos Saturday, detailing their operations and claiming victories –in what many say increasingly looks like a prologue to an all-out war.Neither side has made a gesture that would alleviate that fear.
In his speech Saturday, Nasrallah boasted about Hezbollah’s capabilities, claiming that his armed men had used new types of weapons and struck new targets in Israel.
“This front will remain active,” he stated.
Reporters who have visited border areas of Lebanon and Israel say the reality on the ground is more serious than many think and that “there is a sense of impending conflict.
Hezbollah is much stronger than Hamas. It is by far the strongest group in what the regime in Iran calls the Axis of Resistance, including militias in Iraq, Syria and Yemen –besides Hezbollah and Hamas.
The Islamic Republic openly (and materially) supports these groups but maintains that they all act independently, avoiding direct responsibility for their military operations against Israel and American interests in the region. The Iranian regime immediately celebrated Hamas’ October 7 terror attack on Israel.
Coinciding with Nasrallah’s speech, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi met with Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman on the sidelines of the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Riyadh.
There, Raisi called on Islamic governments to designate Israel’s military a “terrorist organization” and asked those Muslim countries who have diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv to sever those ties.
“There is no other way but to resist Israel, we kiss the hands of Hamas for its resistance against Israel,” Raisi said in his address to the summit.
Some other member states, including UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, reportedly rejected Iran’s suggestions, including a ban on the US use of their airspace to deliver weapons to Israel.
Still, the event turned out to be a rare show of unity from OIC members, who called Israel’s bombardment of Gaza “barbaric” and demanded that the UN security council adopt “a binding resolution” to halt Israel’s “aggression”.
Hosting the summit, Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman condemned Israel’s “continuing aggression, occupation and forced displacement of the people of Gaza and said Israel bears responsibility for the “crimes committed against the Palestinian people.”
“Israel’s flagrant violations of international laws must be stopped,” he said.
More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes since 8 October, a significant majority of them women and children, according to the United Nations.
Hundreds of thousands of people marched in various countries Saturday, protesting Israel’s military operation and demanding a humanitarian ceasefire.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however,insists on carrying on. “The battle to crush Hamas” would continue with “full force”, he said Saturday.