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Middle East

“Don’t Try Us,” Netanyahu Tells Iran, Hezbollah

October 16, 2023
2 min read
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a stark warning to Lebanon’s armed group Hezbollah and its Iranian backers, urging them to stay on the sidelines of Israel’s war against Palestinian movement Hamas.

“Don’t try us, you will be severely harmed,” Netanyahu said in a speech to parliament on October 16, as the Israeli military prepares to launch a ground operation in the Gaza Strip in its bid to uproot Hamas.

“Our goal is victory over Hamas, toppling it from its rule,” he added, nine days after Hamas militants stormed Israel and killed over 1,300 people and kidnapped about 200 hostages to the Gaza Strip.

Israel has responded to the Hamas assault by hitting the Gaza Strip with air and artillery strikes aimed at dismantling the group, killing over 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said that time is running out to reach a political solution to the Israel-Gaza conflict, warning of the “possibility of expanding the scope of war and conflict to other fronts.”

Raisi made the comments in a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the Iranian president’s political deputy, Mohammad Jamshidi, wrote on the social media platform X.

Iran celebrated the Hamas assault, but insisted it was not involved. Yet Tehran, a longtime backer of Hamas, has repeatedly warned that a ground invasion of Gaza would be met with a response from other fronts, prompting fears of a wider conflict that could draw in other countries.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also threatened an “expansion of war fronts,” if the war in Gaza does not stop.

“Iran cannot stand idly by and watch this situation unfold,” Amir-Abdollahian said during a visit to Qatar, where he met senior Qatari officials, as well as Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s political bureau. 

Israel has traded fire with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions in Lebanon several times since the Hamas assault on October 7, although the tit-for-tat attacks have remained limited in scope.

On October 16, Hezbollah opened fire with light arms at Israeli military posts on the Lebanon border and launched a missile at a tank, causing no injuries, according to Israel’s military.

The Israeli army said it was responding with artillery fire at the sources of the gunfire and missile attack.

The Lebanese group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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