A prominent Iranian cleric said last week that Hezbollah, the terrorist organization that exercises complete political and military control over Lebanon, will “turn Haifa and Tel Aviv into ghost-towns,” The Jerusalem Post reported Saturday.
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, who made the threat in his Friday sermon, is a senior member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, was referring to Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal that includes missiles with a range of 70 kilometers (43 miles).
“You’ve tried your chances twice,” and failed, Khatami said, referring to Israel’s wars fought against Hezbollah in 1982 and 2006. “Despite the fact that Hezbollah is stronger today than ever, if you want Tel Aviv and Haifa razed to the ground, try your chances again.”
Khatami’s threat on behalf of Hezbollah was in response to an assessment by the head of IDF operations, Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, in February that Israel faced an increased likelihood of war this year. Allon told Army Radio at the time that “this year has the potential for escalation, and not necessarily because either side wants to initiate it, but because of a gradual deterioration. This has led us to raise the level of preparedness.”
Referring to Hamas’s so-called Great March of Return, Khatami said of Israel, “”The Zionists can only be answered with the language of resistance and force.”
The cleric also referred to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s repeated prediction that Israel will be destroyed within 25 years, saying, “Perhaps it is God’s will that, with all the madness they are causing, [Israel] will be destroyed even before.”
Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah threatened two years ago to attack a now-closed ammonia storage tanks in Haifa, saying that striking the tanks would create “a nuclear bomb effect.”
A few months later Nasrallah said, “we are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
[Photo: IRANIANTVCHANNEL-شبکه تصویری ایرانیان / YouTube ]