Nir Barkat, Israel's Minister of Economy, issued a stern warning to Israel's adversaries, particularly Iran, stating that they will pay dearly if they choose to align themselves with Hamas in their conflict against Israel.
Barkat's comments come in the context of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducting precise airstrikes in northern Gaza, specifically targeting terrorist infrastructure. Prior to these strikes, repeated warnings were given to civilians to evacuate the affected areas. This action followed a recent attack by Palestinian terrorists associated with Hamas, which resulted in the loss of over 1,400 Israeli lives.
There is growing concern that as Israel prepares for a ground offensive against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terrorist organization based in Lebanon, may become involved in the conflict by launching attacks against Israel from the northern border. Barkat stated that the IDF has been given the "green light" to enter Gaza to hunt down and "wipe out" the terrorists, "even if it takes a year."
Barkat said he would not delve into the details of the IDF's timing for entering Gaza. He also warned Iran that Israel will strike back if Hezbollah joins the war, adding that not only will Israel eliminate Hezbollah, but Israel will actually target Iran and wipe them out.
"The plan of Iran is to attack Israel on all fronts. If we find they intend to target Israel, we will not just retaliate on those fronts, but we will go to the head of the snake, which is Iran," he said. "The Ayatollahs in Iran are not going to sleep well at night; we are going to make sure they pay a heavy price if, God forbid, they open the northern front."
He stated that if Hezbollah and Lebanon decide to become involved in the conflict, they will face severe consequences, comparable to what Hamas is expected to endure. However, he emphasized that these consequences would not be enough.
"The very clear message is that we are going to be going after the heads of Iran as well. When will we do that? When we decide," he added. "Israel has a very clear message to our enemies: We are saying to them, look what's happening in Gaza – you are going to get the same treatment if you attack us. We are going to wipe you off the face of the Earth."