JERUSALEM (JTA) – Benjamin Netanyahu warned Lebanon that its government would be responsible for any attack on Israel that originates from its soil.
"The government of Lebanon cannot just say ‘that’s Hezbollah’ and hide behind them," Israel’s prime minister told reporters Monday during a visit to Gush Katif evacuees in southern Israel. "The government of Lebanon is in power and responsible."
Netanyahu’s comments came following an escalation of threats between Israeli and Hezbollah leaders.
A senior Hezbollah official said Sunday that if Israel attacks Lebanon, the response will make the summer 2006 war "look like a joke."
Hashem Safi al-Din, Hezbollah’s executive council chairman, said his organization is not interested in war but is ready to fight.
Al-Din was responding to comments made Aug. 6 by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, when he said that Israel would use "all necessary force" against fresh attacks from Lebanon. Hezbollah is based in Lebanon and has members in the country’s parliament.
Also Sunday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Israel Radio that Lebanon, which he said is responsible for Hezbollah, "will suffer the consequences" if Israeli diplomats or civilians overseas are harmed. He was referring to a report in the Egyptian media Saturday that a terror cell had plotted to kill Israel’s ambassador to Cairo and blow up the Israeli Embassy.