Oct 22, 2023
Israel’s Minister of Economy Nir Barkat issued an ominous threat to Iran and Lebanon in an interview published on Saturday, saying his country would “wipe” them “off the face of the Earth” if Hezbollah opens up a northern front in the Hamas war.
On October 7, Hamas, which the United States designates as a terrorist organization, led the deadliest Palestinian militant attack on Israel in history. Israel subsequently launched its heaviest-ever airstrikes on Gaza. As of Sunday, more than 1,400 people had been killed in Israel, the Associated Press reported. The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 4,000, according to AP.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country is “at war” and has cut off supplies of food, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza. As of Saturday, Israel has allowed some aid into Gaza through Egypt. Israel has called up 360,000 army reservists as it prepares for an expected ground offensive into the densely populated territory, which is estimated to be home to about 2.3 million people.
Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group that the U.S. also designates as a terrorist organization, has exchanged near daily artillery fire across the border with Israel since the initial Hamas attack. The barrage of artillery continued on Sunday, with both sides firing across the border. While Lebanese leaders say they do not want to be drawn into war, Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, holds significant political power and support in the country.
Barkat, in an interview with the Daily Mail, warned that Israel would view an escalation in Hezbollah’s actions as an attack by Iran.
“The plan of Iran is to attack Israel on all fronts. If we find they intend to target Israel, we will not just retaliate to those fronts, but we will go to the head of the snake, which is Iran,” he said.
Barkat threatened “we are going to make sure they pay a heavy price if, God forbid, they open the northern front.”
“Lebanon and Hezbollah are going to pay a heavy price, similar to what Hamas is going to pay. But that’s not enough,” he said. “The very clear message is that we are going to be going after the heads of Iran as well. When will we do that? When we decide.”
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