TEL AVIV – A senior Iranian cleric warned that its terror proxy Hezbollah has powerful new missiles that could “turn Haifa and Tel Aviv into ghost-towns.”
Speaking to worshipers during a Friday sermon, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a leader in Iran’s Assembly of Experts, said that Israel had already “tried its chances twice” in attacking Hezbollah and failed each time, the Tasnim news agency quoted him as saying.
“Despite the fact that Hezbollah is stronger today than ever, if you want Tel Aviv and Haifa razed to the ground, try your chances again,” he said.
According to the report, Khatami was responding to a statement by Israel that a fresh round of conflict with Hezbollah was likely in the coming year. “This year has the potential for escalation, and not necessarily because either side wants to initiate it, but because of a gradual deterioration. This has led us to raise the level of preparedness,” the head of IDF operations, Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, told Army Radio in February.
“If you want Haifa and Tel Aviv to be razed to the ground, you can try your chance once again,” Khatami said, adding that the Lebanese based terror group “is now much more powerful than before.”
According to Israeli estimates, Hezbollah has approximately 150,000 missiles and rockets in caches in Lebanon and will be capable of launching more than a thousand rockets a day over the border in a future conflict.
Khatami also referred to the ongoing clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters along the border with Gaza. “The Zionists can only be answered with the language of resistance and force,” he said.
Citing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s prediction that Israel will not survive another 25 years, Khatami added: “Perhaps it is God’s will that, with all the madness they are causing [in Gaza, Israel] will be destroyed even before.”