Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday warned Hezbollah against ‘testing’ Israel and ruled out a temporary ceasefire until the roughly 240 hostages held in Gaza are released, following a speech from Hezbollah’s leader threatening escalation.
Netanyahu said resolutely: ‘I tell our enemies in the north, don’t test us, you will pay dearly.’
It came as Hezbollah’s chief warned of a further escalation on Israel’s border with Lebanon and said Hamas’s war with the Jewish state is ‘now on more than one front’.
In his first public speech since the conflict started, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, praised the Alaqsa Flood – the name used by Hamas for its vicious assault last month – and said the ‘glorious jihadi operation’ revealed the weakness of Israel and its army.
Any escalation now, he said, depends on the events in Gaza and Israel’s actions. ‘We will not be limited to this,’ he said, suggesting an escalation was possible, while also telling the US that his Iran-backed group was ready to face its warships.
‘Your fleet in the Mediterranean do not scare us… We are ready to face the fleet you threaten us with,’ Nasrallah said, addressing the US. ‘Whoever wants to prevent a regional war must quickly stop the aggression on Gaza.’
Nasrallah gave his ranting speech as Hamas claimed scores of Palestinians had been killed and injured after an Israeli missile strike hit an ambulance convoy on Friday.
The Israeli military confirmed it targeted an ambulance outside Gaza’s largest hospital Friday, claiming it was being used by Hamas militants while health officials said it was transporting the wounded.
Israeli ‘aircraft struck an ambulance that was identified by forces as being used by a Hamas terrorist cell in close proximity to their position in the battle zone,’ a military statement said.
Israel claimed to have killed an undisclosed number of Hamas members in the attack.