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Netanyahu warns Israel's foes 'not to try us'

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his security cabinet during a tour of the Golan Heights on February 6 2018
Kobi Gideon/GPO
Lebanon's leaders said earlier that 'Israel's threats' imperil the stability of the region

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his security cabinet toured Israel's volatile northern border on Tuesday, issuing a grave warning to the country's foes "not to try us."

Speaking at the Mt Avital observatory on the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire lines, Netanyahu lauded the Israeli military forces stationed on the border, which has been frequently peppered with rocket fire emanating from the Syrian civil war being fought just kilometers away.

"I am impressed by the major work the [Israel Defense Forces] is doing to defend our borders and our state," the premier's office quoted him as saying. "We want peace but we are prepared for any scenario and I suggest that no one try us."

The tour came hot on the heels of a warning issued earlier Tuesday by Lebanon's president, prime minister and parliament speaker, in which they vowed to thwart Israel's construction of a wall along its northern frontier. 

The Lebanese army said in a statement quoted by Reuters that after reviewing the "matter of the wall which the Israeli enemy intends to build," it confirmed "the position of the Lebanese government rejecting the construction of this wall as it violates Lebanese sovereignty."

Mahmoud ZAYYAT (AFP)

In January, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman issued a threat to the Shi'ite militia Hezbollah, which has a thousands-strong arsenal of rockets with which to use against Israel. 

"If people in Tel Aviv will sit in bomb shelters, all of Beirut's residents will be in their own bomb shelters," Liberman said in a speech, affirming that "the Lebanese army is not separate from Hezbollah, it is part of Hezbollah, in a future war they will all pay the price."

Seemingly in response to Liberman's rhetoric, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said they had discussed “the Israeli threats, and saw in them ... a direct threat to the stability” of the border region, according to a statement issued by the three and carried by Reuters. 

Hezbollah and Israel last fought a war in 2006, and despite frequent exchanges of threats, it has largely remained calm since. 

The Iran-backed militia is deeply involved in supporting the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad in that country's internal conflict. 

Media reports last year suggested that Israel is providing material support to at least one friendly rebel group that operates near the Israeli border and last year a jihadist assault on a Druze village in Syria prompted several Druze citizens of Israel to attempt to cross the border to help fend off the attack. 

Israel wrested the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 war and annexed the territory in 1981.

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