UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Hezbollah is preparing a “deliberate strike” against Israel after two drones crashed in Beirut but aims to avert a new war, two sources allied to Lebanon’s Hezbollah group told Reuters on Tuesday.
“A thoughtful reaction is now being arranged so that it does not lead to a war neither Hezbollah nor Israel want,” one source said.
“Now go for a thoughtful blow. But how to roll things this is a second topic, wars are not always the result of logical decisions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah should “calm down” after warning Israel it was preparing an imminent response to the crash of the two drones in Beirut’s southern suburbs.
In a speech on Sunday, Nasrallah accused Israel of launching a drone attack that exploded earlier that day.
“I say to the Israeli army on the border,” he said. “From tonight, stand on the wall on a man and a half. We waited for two, three and four days. We waited. It won’t pass.”
One of the planes exploded near the ground, damaging the Hezbollah media center in the southern suburbs of Beirut, which the group controls. Israel has not claimed responsibility for the two drones.
“I heard what Nasrallah said,” Netanyahu said in a speech. I propose to Nasrallah to calm down. He knows very well that Israel knows how to defend itself and respond to its enemies.”
Details on where the planes were launched were not clear. Hezbollah said the two planes were carrying explosives after its experts dismantled the first plane.
Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a member of Netanyahu’s security cabinet, was asked in an interview with Israeli Army Radio whether Israel had attacked ground targets in Lebanon in the past few days.
“Of course we did not respond to the accusations against us,” Hanegbi said. On the face of it, these things seem strange and deceptive. The media mentioned that fact – these are baseless allegations.”
Lebanon’s Supreme Council of Defense, which includes the president, prime minister and army chief, met on Tuesday and stressed “the right of the Lebanese to defend themselves by all means against any aggression”.
Israel considers Hezbollah the biggest threat across its borders. In the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, some 1,200 people were killed in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 158 in Israel, mostly military.
Regional sources say Israel and Hezbollah have reached an unwritten understanding that although they could exchange fire in Syria, any attacks in Lebanon or Israel should be avoided for fear of escalating into war.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Monday his country had the right to defend itself and likened the attack to the two drones as a “declaration of war”.
Late on Saturday, Israeli air strikes killed two Lebanese Hezbollah fighters in Syria.
Israel, which occasionally carries out attacks on Iranian-linked targets inside Syria, said it had targeted a compound controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, accusing the corps of planning deadly drone attacks.
Netanyahu also issued warnings to Lebanon and Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who Netanyahu said he aspired to destroy Israel.
“Pay attention to what you are saying and beware of what you are doing,” Netanyahu said.
Andrea Teniente, spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which monitors the border with Israel, told the official national news agency that the situation in the region remained calm.
“UNIFIL continues to work with both sides to ensure that there are no misunderstandings or incidents that endanger the cessation of hostilities,” he said. He was referring to a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to the fighting in 2006.
In remarks he made during a visit to northern Israel on Sunday, where he met army commanders, Netanyahu appeared to raise the possibility of targeting Lebanon directly if Hezbollah attacked Israel.
“Any country that allows its territory to be used for aggression against Israel will face the consequences and I repeat,” Netanyahu said.
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