TEHRAN, Iran – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday that Israel could not harm Iran, even as the Jewish state expanded its offensive into Lebanon to target the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
"Despite the barbaric and criminal nature of the occupiers of Jerusalem, the regime and its Western supporters do not even have the power to give Iran a nasty look," the agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in Osku, in northwestern Iran.
His declaration came just hours after he warned Israel against extending its Lebanon assault into neighboring Syria, saying such a move would be seen as an attack against the whole Islamic world. Ahmadinejad made those comments in a telephone conversation with Syrian President Bashar Assad, to assure him of his support, IRNA reported.
Syria and Shiite Muslim Iran are allies, and together are the top backers of the Shiite Hezbollah guerrilla group in Lebanon.
Israel has intensified its attacks on Lebanon, striking bridges, airports and the main highway leading to Syria to put pressure on the government and force Hezbollah to free the two Israeli soldiers it captured Wednesday.
Ahmadinejad also said attacks and threats against Lebanon and Syria prove that Israel's "fake regime" would not survive under peaceful conditions, and he urged Israel's allies to stop supporting its military operations.
"One day all supporters of Israel, especially the U.S., should be held accountable," he said.
He held the Jewish state responsible for unjust conditions in neighboring countries, saying Israel's "impudence and shamelessness" help deny the region of advanced technology.
"Opposition to Iran's achievements toward peaceful nuclear technology is an example," Ahmadinejad said.
Iran is under international pressure to suspend its nuclear program and resume negotiations over a package of incentives offered last month by permanent members of the U.N Security Council plus Germany. The Islamic country could face punishment by the council if it rejects the package.
The U.S. accuses Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to build weapons. Tehran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is geared only toward generating electricity.
Iran and Israel have been arch enemies since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled a pro-Western monarchy and installed an anti-West, pro-Palestinian clerical establishment in Tehran.
In April, Iran said it would give the Palestinian Authority US$50 in aid after the militant group Hamas won power in Palestinian parliamentary elections.
Iran threatened Israel in May that it would be Iran's first retaliatory target in response to any U.S. attack.
Last year, Ahmadinejad said the Holocaust was a myth and that Israel should be wiped out.