Hezbollah warns Israel it will avenge slain commander
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel on Wednesday that the militant group would avenge the death of slain commander Imad Moughniyeh, who was killed in a bombing in Damascus three years ago. "I say to the Zionist leaders and generals: Wherever you go in the world ... at any time, to watch your heads because the blood of Imad Mughniyeh will not be wasted," Nasrallah said in a televised address.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brushed off the threat, though on Tuesday his government announced the temporary shutdown of four diplomatic missions abroad over intelligence alerts coinciding with the anniversary of Moughniyeh's assassination.
Hezbollah blamed Israeli agents for Moughniyeh's killing -- which Israel denies -- and Nasrallah has repeatedly said the group will retaliate against a target of its choice at a suitable time.
Nasrallah also said the militant group's fighters should be prepared to seize territory in northern Israel if war broke out again between the two foes.
He was responding to comments by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who said that Israeli troops which fought a 34-day war against Hezbollah in 2006 may be called into action again.
"Barak told the (Israeli) troops you have to be prepared, because if there is a war you may be asked by your leadership to go into Lebanon again," Nasrallah told a rally commemorating Moughniyeh's death.
"I tell the fighters of Hezbollah, be ready in case war is forced on Lebanon, the leadership of the resistance may ask you to take over Galilee," he said, referring to territory in northern Israel close to the border with Lebanon.
Responding to Nasrallah's remarks, Netanyahu said in a televised speech in Jerusalem: "Let those who hide in a bunker, keep to the bunker."
Nasrallah has kept largely out of public view since the 2006 war, during which Israeli forces heavily bombed Hezbollah command centers and Shi'ite residential areas in Lebanon.
"No one should (have) doubt in Israel's might nor in our ability to defense ourselves," Netanyahu said.
Last year Nasrallah said that in any future war the group would attack all military, civilian and commercial ships heading to Israel's Mediterranean coast, and also threatened to hit Ben Gurion airport if Israel attacked Beirut's airport.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry official would not specify which missions had been closed on Tuesday, but said security alerts had been issued in eight countries: Egypt, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania and Venezuela.
(Additional writing by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; editing by Mark Heinrich)
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