The Secretary General of the Hezbollah terror group asserted that ongoing protests against the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will lead to the country’s ultimate demise.
By Erin Viner
“God willing, it will not reach its 80th birthday,” said Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah from an undisclosed bunker in Lebanon, in apparent reference to the 26 April celebration of Israel’s 75th Independence Day.
Claiming that the Jewish State poses the greatest threat to the Middle East, the leader of the Iran-backed terror group said that Netanyahu’s “senseless” government” is guilty of pursuing “major conflicts” that include ongoing strife with the Palestinians, as well its planned revision of the Israeli judiciary.
There have been widespread mass public protests in Israel since early January, following the controversial announcement by Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin of a sweeping “reform of governance” that will limit Supreme Court rulings against government moves or Knesset laws, while increasing politicians’ input over nominations to the bench.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog has warned that the nation is “on the brink of constitutional and social collapse” just “a moment away from a collision – and even from a violent collision.” He has proposed a compromise agreement to prevent further discord.
Citing Herzog’s televised address, Nasrallah mocked, “we all worry about the fate of Israel. The lack of dialogue is tearing us apart from the inside.”
The judicial reform has sparked fierce condemnation and rising rhetoric from former Israeli political and military leaders.
Current Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid has charged on Twitter that the Netanyahu “wants to destroy democracy.” Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for support of President Herzog’s compromise proposal during an interview with Israel’s 12, saying that, “The people of Israel and also history will not forgive the politicians who bring us to the brink of civil war.” Former Prime Minister and ex-member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, Ehud Olmert was cited by Israel National News as telling DemocraTV last week that, “What is needed is to move to the next stage, the stage of war, and war is not waged with speeches. War is waged in a face-to-face battle, head-to-head and hand-to-hand, and that is what will happen here.” Former Premier and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that while Netanyahu’s government is “legal” that it is “clearly illegitimate because of its plan to crush Israeli democracy.” Former Defense Minister Benny Gantz has also vocally opposed the controversial reform and visibly joined public protests.
“For the first time since its creation we hear speeches from the entity’s president and former prime ministers Lapid, Bennett, Olmert and Barak along with former defense ministers and generals who talk about civil war and bloodshed and say that there is no solution to the challenges posed by the new government,” Hezbollah boss Nasrallah crowed during his broadcast.
“In what terms do they speak? They talk about a civil war coming. They talk about the fact that there is no solution to the new challenges posed by the Netanyahu government except through bloodshed,” said Nasrallah.
He went on to say, “A former air force commander threatened to kill Netanyahu,” in reference to comments by decorated IDF Colonel Ze’ev Raz (Ret.) on Facebook, “If a sitting prime minister assumes dictatorial powers, this prime minister is bound to die, simply like that, along with his ministers and his followers,” wrote the distinguished pilot who commanded Israel’s June 1981 Osirak nuclear reactor. Raz later walked back the statement following condemnation across the political spectrum and a brief detainment by the Israel Police Lahav 433 Special Criminal Investigations Unit.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was quick to issue a response to Nasrallah’s statements.
“I heard the remarks by Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon. I heard Nasrallah’s remarks when he spoke about the demonstrations against the government and said with satisfaction that a civil war in Israel is approaching,” he said at the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting.
“Therefore, I say to Nasrallah: Don’t count on a civil war. It will not happen. It will not happen because we are indeed brothers,” Netanyahu underscored.
“It will not happen because what Nasrallah does not understand is that we are a living democracy. In a democracy, there are differences of opinion and debates. Sometimes there is agreement and when it is necessary, there are decisions. There will be no civil war because we always remember that we have fought shoulder-to-shoulder to defend our state and build our land,” added the Israeli leader, emphasizing, “I am pleased to disappoint our enemies and also reassure our friends: Israel is, and will remain, a strong, vibrant and independent democracy.”
Going on to call for a lowering of domestic tensions and inflammatory statements, Netanyahu cautioned, “It is precisely against the backdrop of the expectations of our enemies, expectations of destruction and bloodshed, that talk of blood in the streets must stop. The flames need to be lowered. The mood needs to be calmed. This is the clear call that I am making from here and I expect all public leaders to say these clear words. This is what the Israeli public expects of us and it is the clear message that we need to send to our enemies.”