Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday boasted that his rockets can reach Israel’s nuclear reactor in the southern city of Dimona, and said he would turn Israel’s reported nuclear arsenal against it. A senior Israeli minister threatened Lebanese infrastructures in response.
Nasrallah, who had previously threatened to target an ammonia tank in Haifa, claimed credit for an Israeli court decision to shut down that facility this week and said he would do the same with the nuclear reactor.
“I call upon the Israeli not only to evacuate the Ammonia tank from Haifa, but also to dismantle Dimona nuclear facility,” Nasrallah said at a rally, warning that he would target Dimona too. “The Israeli nuclear weapon that represents a threat to the entire region, we will turn it into a threat to Israel,” he claimed.
In response to Nasrallah’s statement, Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz threatened in a statement to target “all of Lebanon,” including infrastructures there, in retaliation for any attack on Israeli population centers or infrastructures. He also called for “debilitating sanctions” on Iran over its support for its “proxy and stooge” Nasrallah.
“If Nasrallah dares to fire at the Israel homefront or at its national infrastructure, all of Lebanon will be hit,” said Katz.
Earlier this week, the Haifa Court for Local Affairs ordered the company that owns the ammonia storage facility in Haifa to empty the tank. The ruling came after a report published in January found that tens of thousands of local residents would be killed if the chemicals in the storage tank were to be released in the air from an accident or an event like a missile strike on the facility by Hezbollah. The company is now appealing the court ruling.
Nasrallah said that no matter what the Israelis did, they could not escape the threat Hezbollah posed.
“The Israelis hurried to empty out its ammonia tank after our threat to target it, but we’ll reach it wherever they take it to,” he said at the rally, which was held to mark the 9th anniversary of the death of Hezbollah’s former military leader Imad Mughniyeh.
Terror chief Mughniyeh was killed by a car bomb in February 2008.
New Hamas Leader, a Vicious Killer, Portends New Rounds of Violence
The election of Yehya Sinwar to lead Hamas in Gaza represents the completion of a lengthy takeover by the terror movement's military wing at the expense of the political wing, and it could signal a more imminent confrontational path with Israel than previously thought.
The Izzadin Al-Kassam Brigades gradually have been pushing aside Hamas's political wing, seeing it as an impediment to its jihadist war efforts against Israel.
Sinwar and his military wing comrades want to reestablish their alliance with Iran and boost a tactical partnership with ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula.
His rise likely means that Hamas and Iran will grow close once again, after years of turmoil over their opposing stances on the Syrian war.
In fact, Sinwar's rise to power is being described by veteran analyst Pinhas Inbari as Iran's taking back the reigns to Gaza, which stemmed from Iranian concerns over a more hardline policy from the United States after President Donald Trump's election.
Inbari does not believe Sinwar's appointment was even based on elections, saying the results came from pressure by Hamas's military wing on the political wing, and that the development is "Iran's way of conveying a message before the Trump-Netanyahu talks" that took place Wednesday.
Sinwar, who served 22 years in an Israeli prison for murdering Palestinians he accused of being Israeli collaborators, is a trigger-happy senior Hamas member who does not hesitate to shoot dead Gazans he perceives as being disloyal.
He was released from prison during the 2011 Schalit prisoner swap with Israel, and quickly rejoined his comrades in the military wing, under the command of Muhammad Def, who were feverishly preparing rocket attacks, and tunneling into Israel.
According to a recent report by Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Sinwar and his brutal track record are associated with an end to the "ijma" (consensus) manner in which Hamas once made strategic decisions, and the beginning of an internal Hamas dictatorship.
And yet, even an extreme a figure as Sinwar will have to take reality into account when it comes to his options against Israel.
Since the end of the 2014 conflict with Israel, it seems reasonable to assume that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) may be working on a new combat doctrine together with the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency against the terrorist regime in Gaza.
If such a change has occurred in the Israeli defense establishment, in the event of a new conflict, Israel could seek to destroy the military wing. That would be a dramatic shift from the older goals of containment and deterrence.
This potential change in doctrine may have been hinted at in comments made on occasion by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who said, for example, last year, that Israel would destroy Hamas "completely" in the next war, though Jerusalem would not be the one to initiate hostilities.
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