DUBAI (Reuters) - An aide to Iran’s supreme leader said Israel’s military threats had “put Israeli citizens one step away from the cemetery” and that Lebanese militant group Hezbollah was ready to hit back.
Yahya Rahim-Safavi, military adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the increasing threats from Israel to strike Iranian nuclear facilities were “foolish”, the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported on Friday.
“The boldness and foolishness of Israeli officials in threatening the Islamic Republic, have put Israeli citizens one step away from the cemetery,” he said.
“If, one day, the Israeli regime takes action against us, resistance groups, especially Hezbollah ... will respond more easily,” said Safavi, a former commander in chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made increasing hints in recent weeks that Israel could strike Iran and has criticized U.S. President Barack Obama’s position that sanctions and diplomacy should be given more time.
The heightened rhetoric has stoked speculation that Israel may attack before U.S. elections in November.
Hezbollah has said any attack on Iran would be met by strikes against Israeli and U.S. targets in the region, even if American forces played no role in the attack.
“A decision has been taken to respond and the response will be very great,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a TV interview this month.
Shi‘ite Muslim Hezbollah, founded with Iranian help during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, has grown from a militia into a powerful political and military force. It fought a 34-day war with Israel six years ago in which 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 people in Israel, mostly soldiers, were killed.
Writing by Zahra Hosseinian; Editing by Robin Pomeroy