BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Tuesday the powerful Shi’ite guerrilla group would hit Israel’s Ben Gurion airport if the Jewish state struck Beirut’s international airport in any future war.
“If you hit Rafik al-Hariri international airport in Beirut, we will hit Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv,” Nasrallah said via a live video-link to thousands of cheering Shi’ite followers.
“If you hit our ports, we will bomb your ports, and if you hit our oil refineries, we will bomb your oil refineries.”
Ben-Gurion airport lies in the town of Lod, near Tel Aviv.
Nasrallah’s comments came amid recent increased anti-Israeli comments in the region including from Syrian, Iranian and Lebanese leaders.
Syrian and Lebanese officials have accused Israel repeatedly in the past few weeks of pushing for a war in the region, against the backdrop of an Iranian nuclear program Israel views as a threat to its very survival.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking on a visit to Moscow, said on Tuesday “we are not planning any war” and accused Tehran of stoking fears as Western powers weigh additional sanctions against Iran to press for a stop to its atomic development.
Iran says its nuclear program is solely to generate electricity. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently said Israel should be finished off if it launched military action in the region.
Last year Nasrallah threatened to attack Tel Aviv if Israel were to bomb Beirut’s southern suburbs, a bastion of the powerful Shi’ite military and political group.
Hezbollah fought against Israel in a 34-day war in 2006 after the group captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid. Some 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, were killed and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers, died.
Israel pounded Beirut’s southern suburbs as well as mainly Shi’ite southern Lebanon where Hezbollah maintains a stronghold and from which Israel withdrew in 2000.
Israeli bombing also hit bridges, roads, airport runways, ports, factories, power and water networks, and military installations, and the eastern Bekaa Valley.
Nasrallah was speaking at an event marking the second anniversary of the assassination of military commander Imad Moughniyah.
The Shi’ite group has blamed Israel for the 2008 bombing that killed him in Damascus, and has vowed revenge. Israel has denied involvment, and said that it has since foiled several Hezbollah attempts to kidnap Israelis abroad.
Nasrallah said he knew some Israelis were hoping Hezbollah would strike a “modest target” as revenge for Moughniyah.
“I would like to assure you that in the past two years, we had many modest targets between our hands, but we didn’t go forward. Why? Because we are seeking revenge for ... Imad Moughniyah.”
The fiery leader said Israel was no longer in a position to launch a war that did not guarantee its absolute victory, after the fallout from the 2006 war against Hezbollah and its three-week military offensive in Gaza last year.
Additional reporting by Laila Bassam in Beirut and Allyn Fisher-Ilan in Jerusalem; Editing by Michael Roddy