By D. Bender
Israel has warned Lebanon based terror group Hezbollah not to approach the border or attack its interests abroad, in a message conveyed through Moscow, Israel’s NRG News reported on Monday, citing Labanon’s As-Safir newspaper.
According to the newspaper, the message, delivered through Russian intermediaries, was that “Israel is not interested in the deterioration of security and escalation on the northern border, but will not allow the presence of terrorists near the border.”
Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon said during a recent visit to the area that, “we will respond strongly to any attempt to harm us.”
The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Israel would respond harshly to any attack against Israeli targets in the country or abroad in response to its strike on a Hezbollah convoy near Quneitra in the central Golan Heights on January 18th, which killed some 10 militants and an Iranian general.
Sources told the paper that a number of ambassadors made it clear to Lebanese officials that Israel would hold Hezbollah responsible for any attack on Israeli institutions abroad.
Israel has charged Iranian-backed Hezbollah with a series of terror attacks against Israeli citizens and its diplomats abroad, including a bombing of a tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria in the summer of 2012, which killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver.
The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) threatened after the Golan airstrike that Israel should expect “ruinous thunderbolts” in response to the attack, which killed Gen. Mohammed Ali Allah Dadi, along with noted Hezbollah operative, Jihad Mughniyeh, and some 10 others.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad on Sunday directly addressed the incident for the first time, and accused Israel of assisting al Qaeda.
“How can you say that al Qaeda has no air force?” Assad asked rhetorically. “In practice, we see that they have an air force and it is the Israeli Air Force,” Assad alleged.
IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Friday and Saturday toured the tense border zone, along which Israeli residents have been instructed to take shelter repeatedly over fears of terrorist infiltrations.
There is a heavy presence of tanks and other military armored vehicles along stretches of the upper Galilee border vicinity, troops have been posted in and around several border villages, some roads in the vicinity have been closed, and hundreds of tall concrete barriers have been deployed to thwart sniper attacks on both IDF forces and civilians.
“IDF forces are closely monitoring events throughout the area and are very alert, ready and prepared for any action necessary,” Gantz said.