Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Hezbollah against opening a second war front against Israel or risk provoking a massive retaliation that would bring ‘unimaginable devastation upon Lebanon’.
The Prime Minister said he could not tell his soldiers ‘right now if Hezbollah will decide to enter the war fully’ but said the fight with Hamas was ‘do or die’ for Israel.
The stark message comes as fears are mounting that the Israel-Hamas war could provoke an all-out battle in the Middle East, with Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warning last night that the fighting risks unleashing a ‘contagion of conflict’ in the region.
Meanwhile, the US Secretary of Defense warned on Sunday that there is a possibility of a ‘significant escalation’ of attacks on troops and citizens across the whole region.
In an official transcript of a briefing Netanyahu gave Israeli commandos near the Lebanese border he said: ‘We’re in a battle for our lives. A battle for our home, this is not an exaggeration, this is the war. It’s do or die – they need to die.
‘And we are now in a double battle: One battle is a battle to hold action here and on the other side, to win there, an absolute victory that will erase Hamas.
‘I can’t tell you now if Hezbollah decide to fully enter the war. If Hezbollah decides to enter the war […] They will be making the biggest mistake of their lives. And we will hit them with an unimaginable force. It will mean devastation for them and the state of Lebanon.’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Hezbollah against opening a second war front against Israel or risk provoking a massive retaliation that would bring ‘unimaginable devastation upon Lebanon
Hezbollah fighters rise their group’s flag and shout slogans, as they attend the funeral procession of Hezbollah fighter, Bilal Nemr Rmeiti
Israelis living near the country’s northern border with Lebanon have been evacuated from their homes as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continue to exchange intense cross-border fire with the Iran-backed terror group.
Netanyahu’s warning comes just hours after Iran issued a chilling warning to the United States saying that Israel’s war with Hamas could ‘spiral out of control’ if they do not ‘immediately’ cease strikes on Gaza.
Meanwhile the Israeli government warned it would target Tehran if Hezbollah escalates the conflict.
‘I warn the US and its proxy (Israel) that if they do not immediately stop the crime against humanity and genocide in Gaza, anything is possible at any moment and the region will go out of control,’ Iran’s foreign minister said today.
Hossein Amirabdollahian added: ‘What we witness today in Gaza is a proxy war waged by the fake Israeli regime, in representing the US, against the oppressed nation of Palestine and civilians.’
He added that it was ‘bitter and unfortunate’ that Biden visited Israel on Wednesday, supporting its attacks on hospitals mosques, churches and civilians.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said this afternoon that he saw a potential for escalation in the ongoing war because of the actions of Iran and its proxies in the region.
The United States was not looking for escalation, Blinken told NBC News in an interview, adding that he hoped for more hostages to be released by Hamas.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin added: ‘We’re seeing a prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and people throughout the region.’
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the comments alongside his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor at a joint news conference in Tehran.
In a direct threat to deter Tehran from intervening further, Nir Barkat, Israel’s Minister of Economy warned that not only would Israel ‘eliminate Hezbollah’, if it believes the terror group is opening up a ‘northern front’, but ‘we will actually target Iran.’
Mr Barkat told the Mail on Sunday: ‘The plan of Iran is to attack Israel on all fronts. If we find they intend to target Israel, we will not just retaliate to those fronts, but we will go to the head of the snake, which is Iran.’
Members of Hezbollah march with party’s flags during a rally marking al-Quds Day in 2019
Today Netanyahu said the ongoing fight between Israel and Hamas was ‘do or die’ for his country as he warned Hezbollah against opening a second war front
Netanyahu shakes hands with soldiers Israel Defense Force soldiers near the Lebanon border
Netanyahu’s warning comes just hours after Iran issued a chilling warning to the United States that Israel’s war with Hamas could ‘spiral out of control’ if they do not ‘immediately’ cease strikes on Gaza. Pictured: Netanyahu embraces US President Joe Biden earlier this week
He additionally threatened Iran’s Ayatollahs, saying they would be ‘wiped off the face of the earth’ should Hezbollah, their proxy terror group in Lebanon, attack Israel.
IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus has accused Hezbollah of a dangerous escalation, edging towards an all-out war.
‘[Hezbollah] is dragging Lebanon into a war that it will gain nothing from, but stands to lose a lot… Hezbollah is playing a very, very dangerous game. They’re escalating the situation. We see more and more attacks every day,’ he said.
Tensions are also mounting in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where the IDF has battled militants in refugee camps and carried out two air strikes in recent days, including on a mosque in a refugee camp.
Israeli forces killed six Palestinians in the occupied territory today, bringing the total number of deaths in the region to 91 since October 7, according to the Hamas-run Palestinian health ministry.
Meanwhile, relentless strikes on the Gaza Strip are continuing just over two weeks after the war began – with Rishi Sunak last night warning it could unleash a ‘contagion of conflict’ in the Middle East if not contained.
Israel has been battling the Hamas group since they launched a bloody invasion from the enclave on October 7, which saw over 1,400 Israelis killed and over 200 taken hostage.
The IDF has since unleashed a barrage of strikes on the Gaza Strip that have killed more than 4,600 Palestinians, mainly civilians and 40 per cent of whom are children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian spoke alongside his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor (left) at a joint news conference in Tehran
Israeli soldiers make preparations in front of Merkava tanks as they man a position at an undisclosed location on the border with Lebanon
Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions have traded cross-border fire with Israel for days
An Israeli soldier jumps off a Merkava tank at a position in an undisclosed location on the border with Lebanon on October 22
Fighters of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah carry the coffin of Hezbollah fighter Bilal Rmeity, who was killed by Israeli shelling in Lebanese border towns with Israel
Supporters of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and relatives carry the coffin of Hezbollah fighter
Israeli aircraft released leaflets as a warning for Gazans to move south or face death, with residents reportedly claiming they threatened that ‘whoever chooses not to evacuate would likely be designated as a member’ or ‘accomplice’ of a terrorist organisation.
Despite claims of greater safety for civilians in the south, houses in southern areas such as Rafah, a city on the border with Egypt, have been razed to the ground by ongoing Israeli strikes.
Hamas claims that at least 266 people were killed by Israeli strikes in the past 24 hours, including 117 children. Israel last night said it would be stepping up its air raids on Gaza.
Early on Sunday morning, aircraft struck a compound beneath a mosque in the occupied West Bank early that the military said was being used by terrorists to organise attacks.
‘Intel was recently received which indicated that the terrorists, (who) were neutralized, were organizing an imminent terror attack,’ the military said in a statement.
IDF spokesperson Lt Col Hecht said: ‘Last night, there was an aerial strike on an underground terror compound in the al-Ansar mosque in Jenin. We were focusing on terrorists, an imminent threat, a ticking timebomb.’
Asked whether the strike was carried out with a drone or jet, which would make it the first time a warplane has been used against the West Bank in 20 years, Hecht refused to give more information than to say it was an ‘aerial attack’.
A view of destruction after an Israeli bombing attack in Nuseirat camp, central Gaza Strip
The severe damage done to the Al-Ansar Mosque at Jenin refugee camp by Israeli air strikes was clear to see the morning after it was hit
Israeli aircraft released leaflets as a warning for Gazans to move south or face death, with residents reportedly claiming they threatened that ‘whoever chooses not to evacuate would likely be designated as a member’ or ‘accomplice’ of a terrorist organisation
Footage on social media, appearing to show the scene of the air strike, showed a gaping hole in one of the mosque’s exterior walls, surrounded by debris, with civilians and members of the emergency services at the scene
Footage widely circulating online in the immediate aftermath of the attack purported to show emergency services rushing to administer aid beside the damaged building. There were also some civilians gathered outside
Israeli strikes on Syria last night put out of service the war-torn country’s two main airports, state media reported citing a military source, with the transport ministry saying flights were re-routed to Latakia and at least two workers killed.
While Israeli strikes have repeatedly caused the grounding of flights at the government-controlled airports in the capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo, it is the second time simultaneous strikes have hit the facilities since this month’s conflict between Israel and Hamas began.
‘At around 5.25 am (0225 GMT), the Israeli enemy carried out… an air attack… targeting Damascus and Aleppo international airports, leading to the death of a civilian worker at Damascus airport and wounding another,’ the military source said in the statement carried by state news agency SANA.
‘Material damage to the airports’ runways put them out of service,’ the statement added. The transport ministry said flights were diverted to Latakia airport.
The military source said the ‘simultaneous’ strikes came ‘from the direction of the Mediterranean west of Latakia and from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan’, according to the statement.
Children were among those looking for survivors in the Gaza Strip’s southern city of Rafah, which is on the border with Egypt, this morning
Smoke billows after an Israeli strike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on October 22
Palestinians inspect the damage after overnight Israeli strikes on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
A Palestinian man helps evacuate a woman from a damaged building after overnight Israeli strikes on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on October 22
Family members of a young Palestinian man mourn after his death on October 22, 2023
A young man transports a bag of food as smoke rises from buildings behind him during an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip October 22, 2023
On October 12, simultaneous strikes knocked both Damascus and Aleppo airports out of service, Syria said at the time.
Last weekend, Israeli strikes targeted Aleppo airport, wounding five people, a war monitor reported, also putting it out of service, according to the authorities.
During more than a decade of war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its northern neighbour, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters as well as Syrian army positions.
Israel rarely comments on individual strikes it carries out on Syria, but it has repeatedly said it will not allow its arch foe Iran, which supports President Bashar al-Assad’s government, to expand its presence there.
On Sunday morning, the army said its forces ‘identified a terrorist cell attempting to launch anti-tank missiles toward the Avivim area along the border with Lebanon.’
‘IDF soldiers struck the cell before it was able to carry out the attack,’ a statement from the military said.
Since October 7, exchanges of fire across the border have killed at least four people in Israel – three soldiers and one civilian.
People walk on makeshift Israeli flags strewn on the ground past Palestinian members of the Saraya al-Quds, the military branch of Islamic Jihad faction, standing in line holding Palestinian flags during a rally organised by their faction at the Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees south of Syria’s capital Damascus
Palestinian members of the Saraya al-Quds (Jerusalem Brigades), the military branch of Islamic Jihad faction, stand in line holding Palestinian flags
In southern Lebanon, at least 27 people have been killed, according to an AFP tally. Most have been combatants but at least four civilians, including a Reuters journalist, have also been killed.
Israel has ordered dozens of northern communities to evacuate, and several thousand Lebanese have also fled border regions for the southern city of Tyre.
On Sunday, the Israeli defence ministry said they were evacuating 14 additional communities from the area.
Hezbollah number two Naim Qassem has warned the group could step up its involvement in the conflict.
Israeli soldiers and armored vehicles are gathered at an undisclosed location near the border with Gaza
There are growing expectations of a ground offensive that Israel says will be aimed at rooting out Hamas
An Israeli flag flutters from a self-propelled howitzer near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, October 22,
‘Let’s be clear, as events unfold, if something comes up that calls for greater intervention by us, we will do so,’ he said.
Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus told CNN on Saturday: ‘We are concerned, and we urge the state of Lebanon to think twice or maybe 200 times if they really want to jeopardize what’s left of Lebanese sovereignty and prosperity for the sake of a bunch of terrorists in Gaza.’
As tensions heighten in the region, civilians in Gaza are facing an increasingly desperate situation, with hundreds of thousands forced to flee by Israel’s airstrikes, seeing refugee camps in the south overflow.
The border crossing between Egypt and Gaza opened on Saturday to let a trickle of desperately needed aid into the besieged Palestinian territory for the first time since Israel sealed it off in the wake of Hamas’s bloody rampage two weeks ago.
Humanitarian aid trucks arriving from Egypt after having crossed through the Rafah border crossing arriving at a storage facility in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip
Volunteers and NGOs staff celebrate after unloading aid supplies and returning to Egyptian side of border on October 21
Just 20 trucks were allowed in, an amount that aid workers said is insufficient to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
A second convoy of aid trucks entered the Egyptian side of Rafah crossing on Sunday and was being inspected before it headed to the Gaza Strip, according to security sources and humanitarian sources in Rafah.
A total of around 17 trucks was at the crossing and being inspected before continuing to Gaza, the sources said.
More than 200 trucks carrying roughly 3,000 tons of aid have been positioned near the crossing for days.
Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, half of whom have fled their homes, are rationing food and drinking dirty water. Hospitals say they are running low on medical supplies and fuel for emergency generators amid a territory-wide power blackout.
Five hospitals have stopped functioning because of fuel shortages and bombing damage, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said.
Doctors in darkened wards across Gaza have been left with no choice but to perform surgeries by the light of mobile phones and use shop-bought vinegar to treat infected wounds.
Serious shortages in other supplies, including ventilators, are forcing medical teams to prioritize the lives of those who can be saved for certain over severe cases that require complex care, said Dr. Mohammed Qandeel, who works in the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.
‘It’s heartbreaking,’ he said. ‘Every day, if we receive 10 severely injured patients, we have to manage with maybe three or five ICU beds available.
Palestinians assess the damage after a mosque was hit in an Israeli air strike the night before
Pictures appear to show parts of the mosque in the Jenin refugee camp completely destroyed
‘We have to choose who must face death, or manage them in regular wards or do some limited care because we think as a medical team, between two patients in a life-threatening situation, we have to give the ventilator to the patient who has a higher chance of improving in 24 hours.’
Many departments in the hospital are plunged in darkness as medical staff allow electricity only in critical departments where patients risk death without it.
On Friday, the hospital was on its last stock of fuel, but managed to get another tank from UNRWA’s existing stock on Saturday, said Qandeel. ‘This amount should last for three to five days,’ he said.
The World Health Organization says Gaza’s Health Ministry is reporting that its daily use of medical consumables during the war is equivalent to its monthly consumption before the war.
The report said ‘an imminent public health catastrophe looms’ in the setting of mass displacement, overcrowding of shelters and damage to the water and sanitation infrastructure.
There are growing expectations of a ground offensive that Israel says will be aimed at rooting out Hamas, which would inevitably worsen the situation further for people trapped in Gaza.