JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday that his country would hold the Lebanese government responsible for any attacks on Israeli targets by the country's Hezbollah militia.
It was the latest shot in a war of words that has been escalating since a July 14 explosion at a suspected Hezbollah arms depot near the Israeli border.
Netanyahu told Israel Radio on Monday that the government in Beirut could not turn a blind eye to the activities of Hezbollah while the group sits in the Lebanese parliament and plays a major role in politics.
"It should be clear that the Lebanese government, as far as we are concerned, is responsible for every attack, every attack, launched from its territory against Israel," he said. "It cannot hide and say 'well, that's Hezbollah and we don't control them."'
Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said recently that his group has replenished its weapons stock since its 2006 war with Israel and now has more than 30,000 rockets. Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets at Israel during the 2006 conflict.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told a parliamentary committee last week that in the event of renewed hostilities, Israel would "go after not only Hezbollah but the entire state of Lebanon."
At a rally in southern Lebanon on Sunday, Hezbollah's Executive Council chief Hashem Safieddine delivered his response.
"If Barak's threats are serious, and I don't think they are, he should know that if he commits a mistake or folly against Lebanon ... he will discover that the war of July and August 2006 was just a little joke," Safieddine said.
The war killed about 160 Israelis and 1,200 Lebanese.