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Israeli PM: Don't doubt Israel's ability

Feb. 17, 2011 at 7:13 AM   |   Comments

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JERUSALEM, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Israel's prime minister, in response to Hezbollah threats to occupy the Galilee in the next war, says no one should doubt Israel's ability to defend itself.

At a ceremony marking Martyrs Resistance Day in Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned in a televised speech Wednesday that if a war is imposed on Lebanon his fighters will liberate the Galilee.

"I say to the fighters of the Islamic resistance -- be ready. If a new war is imposed on Lebanon we may ask you to take the Galilee, to free the Galilee," Nasrallah declared.

"Whoever hides in a bunker should stay in the bunker," Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said referring to Nasrallah, who since the Second Lebanon War rarely appears in public and broadcasts all his speeches to his followers from his bunker.

The Netanyahu response to the Hezbollah leader's threats at a Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem was aired on national television networks.

"Nasrallah said he would capture the Galilee, I have news for you -- you won't," Netanyahu said. "No one should doubt Israel's strength or its ability to defend itself. We have a strong army and we are a people of strong resolve. We seek peace with all of our neighbors, but the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] is prepared to defend Israel from any of its enemies," Netanyahu declared.

Marking the third anniversary of the death of his deputy Imad Mughniyeh, killed by a car bomb in Damascus in February 2008, the Hezbollah chief warned his blood was not spent in vain and his death will be avenged.

"I want to assure you and tell the Israelis that they should be careful because the blood of Imad Mugniyeh will not go to waste," Nasrallah said in footage broadcast on Israel's Second Channel Wednesday night.

Israel this week stepped up security at its embassies abroad amid Hezbollah's threats to target Israeli interests due to the third anniversary of Mughniyeh's death. The Israeli government temporarily shut down four embassies and advised diplomats from those missions to remain in their homes.

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