netanyahu - Alon Ron - February 11 2011
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo by Alon Ron
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back Wednesday evening at comments earlier in the day by the head of militant Lebanese organization Hezbollah that it had the ability to seize control of the Galilee region in northern Israel.

"[Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah announced today that he can occupy the Galilee, but I have news for you, he can't," the prime minister told a meeting in Jerusalem of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Netanyahu's comments are the latest in a war of words between Israel and Hezbollah, which began Tuesday when Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during a tour of northern Israel that Hezbollah had taken a massive blow during the 2006 conflict with Israel, but that Israel's army should stand ready.

"Anyone who hides in a bunker will stay in a bunker," Netanyahu said, referring to Nasrallah, who mostly appears only via video as his location is kept secret. "We have a strong army and a united nation. We tried for peace with all of our neighbors, but the army is prepared and ready to defend Israel against any enemy."

Nasrallah had responded earlier Wednesday to Barak's comments from the day before by telling "Zionist generals and officers" to "watch your heads."

Speaking at a rally in Beirut, Nasrallah called on "Islamic resistance fighters" to "be ready for the day that will come when war will be forced on Lebanon."

"The leadership of the resistance will ask them to take control over the Galilee," Nasrallah said at a rally to honor a Hezbollah leader who had escaped from an Egyptian prison during the country's recent unrest.