Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the chief commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), issued new threats against Israel on Thursday, vowing that any future conflict will be the Jewish state’s last.
“It is a proven claim that today we say any new war will lead to the eradication of the Zionist regime,” said Jafari at a Tehran press conference, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.
Jafari also told reporters that Lebanon is Israel’s primary target today and that “resistance” experienced by Israel in previous conflicts with Iran-backed Hezbollah and Hamas was minor in comparison to their current capabilities.
“They have seen a part of the resistance front’s power during the 33-day and 22-day wars and today that the great resistance front has been formed, this word has been proven,” said Jafari, referring to the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009.
Jafari added that Iran and other groups will come to the aid of Hezbollah should they be attacked by Israel.
“The fate of the resistance front is interwoven and they all stand united and if Israel attacks a part of it, the other component of the front will help it,” he said.
Reiterating remarks made on Wednesday, the IRGC chief rejected demands that Hezbollah be disarmed.
“This issue is not negotiable and the entire Lebanese nation, except a number of little puppet groups, support Hezbollah’s weapon.”
On Wednesday, Jafari said that “Hezbollah must be armed to fight against the enemy of the Lebanese nation which is Israel. Naturally they should have the best weapons to protect Lebanon’s security. This issue is non-negotiable.”
Jafari’s comments follow an Arab League meeting in Cairo on Sunday, called by Saudi Arabia, during which Arab foreign ministers condemned both Iran and Hezbollah for their role in spreading violence in the region.
In a joint declaration, opposed only by Lebanon and Iraq, the umbrella organization accused Hezbollah of “supporting terrorism and extremist groups in Arab countries with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles.”
Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that “Iranian threats have gone beyond all limits and pushed the region into a dangerous abyss.”
The role of Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon and the wider Middle East has been at the forefront of regional politics since Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s sudden resignation on November 4 sparked a sharp rise in tensions between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran.
Hariri subsequently shelved his resignation after returning to Lebanon on Wednesday in favor of dialogue, as per Hezbollah-allied Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s request.
Reuters contributed to this article.