Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned on Friday that his Lebanese Shiite militia would make lives of Israelis “a living hell” if it is attacked, threatening to kill tens of thousands of Israelis by striking specific targets in Israel with what it described as precision-guided rockets.
“There are targets in occupied Palestine (Israel) which could be targeted by a small number of missiles,” Nasrallah said.
“If we are forced to use them to protect our people and our country, we will not hesitate to do so… and that will turn the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists into a living hell,” he said in a speech marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day.
Nasrallah warned of “tens of thousands of deaths, and not just 300 to 500 dead,” adding that Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and Syria, had fixed its targets.
“Hitting these targets with a small number of rockets will turn … the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists to real hell, and we can talk about tens of thousands of dead,” said Nasrallah.
Nasrallah was speaking on the occasion of Jerusalem Day, marked each year on the last Friday of Ramadan in accordance with a tradition established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late supreme leader of Iran.
In case of any Israeli attack on Iran over its controversial nuclear program, “the response will be enormous,” he warned. Any such action would present the Islamic republic with “the opportunity is has been dreaming of” since it was founded in 1979.
Last month, Israel accused Iran and Hezbollah of planning attacks in “over 20 countries” in remarks just days after a deadly attack in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and their local bus driver.
Iran denied the charges but Hezbollah refused to comment.
Hezbollah follows the example of its backer in marking Quds Day, a show of support for the Palestinians over the disputed holy city of Jerusalem.
“I tell the Israelis that you have a number of targets, not a large number … that can be hit with precision rockets … which we have,” Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said in a broadcast speech.
He said he would not name the targets and did not say whether the rockets were newly acquired weapons.
Nasrallah said his group could strike a limited number of targets in Israel which if hit would lead to mass casualties – a possible reference to Israeli nuclear facilities, though he said he did not spell out what he meant.
Meanwhile, Israel’s existence is an “insult to all humanity,” Iran’s president said Friday in one of his sharpest attacks yet against the Jewish state, as Israel openly debates whether to attack Iran over its nuclear programme.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said confronting Israel is an effort to “protect the dignity of all human beings.”
“The existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to all humanity,” Ahmadinejad said. He was addressing worshippers at Tehran University after nationwide pro-Palestinian rallies, an annual event marking Quds Day on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.
Israel considers Iran an existential threat because of its nuclear and missile programs support for radical anti-Israel groups on its borders and repeated references by Iranian leaders to Israel’s destruction. Ahmadinejad himself has repeatedly made such calls, as has Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran has denied allegations that it is seeking to build nuclear weapons, saying its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at producing electricity and radioisotopes used to treat cancer patients.
Israel has been carrying on an increasingly public debate about whether to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israel’s official position is to favor diplomatic and economic measures to persuade Iran to halt its uranium enrichment programme, but Israel insists that Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. Israeli leaders say “all options are on the table,” a clear reference to a military strike, if they determine that other measures have failed.
Iran has warned it would hit back at Israel if it is attacked, also threatening to strike at American interests in the region.
Ahmadinejad called Israel “a corrupt, anti-human organized minority group standing up to all divine values.”
“Today, confronting the existence of the fabricated Zionist regime is in fact protecting the rights and dignity of all human beings,” said Ahmadinejad, with a black and white scarf many Palestinians wear around his neck.
Iran and Israel have been bitter enemies for decades. Khamenei has called Israel a “cancerous tumor” that must be wiped out.
Tensions between Iran and Israel have intensified since 2005, when Ahmadinejad said in a speech that Israel will one day be “wiped off the map.” The Iranian president has also described the Holocaust, when 6 million Jews were killed by German Nazis and their collaborators during World War II, as a “myth”.