October 14, 2019

‘Calm Down,’ Netanyahu Tells Hezbollah Amid Threats of Retaliation for Israeli Strikes

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel December 4, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the head of the Hezbollah to “calm down” amid concerns the terror group would strike targets in Israel in retaliation for Israeli attacks in Lebanon and Syria.

On Sunday, Hassan Nasrallah said Hezbollah would take revenge following an Israeli airstrike on what it said were targets in Syria of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and Shiite militia left two Hezbollah fighters dead. There was also an attack on a Palestinian terror group’s positions in the Bekaa Valley, near the Syrian border, and the crash of two drones said to be carrying explosives in a Hezbollah-controlled area of Beirut that are alleged to be by Israel.

President Michel Aoun of Lebanon called the strikes a “declaration of war.”

“I heard what Nasrallah said. I suggest to Nasrallah to calm down,” Netanyahu said in a speech Tuesday in Jerusalem. “He knows well that Israel knows how to defend itself and to pay back its enemies,”

Israel’s military on Tuesday began limiting civilian traffic near the border with Lebanon in expectation of retaliation by Hezbollah. In addition, it deployed an Iron Dome missile defense battery in northern Israel. Military bases in northern Israel have gone on high alert.

Bomb shelters for civilians have not been opened.

On Monday night, the Israeli army launched flares over border areas due to reports that people in Lebanon were approaching the border.

Hezbollah has come under international pressure to refrain from retaliating. Israel has warned that it would not limit its response to Hezbollah, threatening an escalation on its northern border.