Lebanon will defend itself against Israel, says Defence Minister Yaqub Al Sarraf

Netanyahu slams Iran; Tehran brands his speech ‘cartoonish’

17:03 February 18, 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Munich: Lebanese Defence Minister Yaqub Al Sarraf said his country is prepared to defend itself if Israel launches strikes on its territory.

The comments came Sunday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country had shot down an Iranian drone in its airspace, and would “act if necessary” against Iran and its proxies, such as the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

Al Sarraf told participants at the Munich Security Conference he’d had “an Israeli drone above my head for the past 15 years” but that his country has “no belligerent intent” against anyone.

But he says “we will defend ourselves” and that “we are for peace, yet we will not stand for any threat and we will not accept any aggression. Netanyahu said at the Munich conference that an international agreement with Iran has emboldened the regime in Tehran to become increasingly aggressive in the region.

Saying Iran’s “brazenness hit new highs”, he held up a fragment of what he said was an Iranian drone shot down last week by Israel in Israeli airspace and challenged Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was to speak later.

Netanyahu said “Mr Zarif do you recognise this? You should, it’s yours. You can take back with you a message to the tyrants of Tehran — do not test Israel’s resolve!”

Zarif dismissed as a “cartoonish circus” the accusations by Netanyahu. He told the gathering: “You were the audience for a cartoonish circus just this morning which does not even deserve the dignity of a response.” He denounced Israel’s “almost daily illegal incursions into Syrian airspace”.