Lindsey Graham: Israeli Leaders Warned Me of War With Hezbollah in Lebanon

The U.S. lawmaker says Israeli leaders told him during his recent Israel visit that the country needed more ammunition to fend off Hezbollah rockets provided by Iran

Lebanon's southern border town of Naqura on the border with Israel, south of Beirut.
JOSEPH EID/AFP

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that Israeli officials warned him and other lawmakers during his visit to the Jewish state that should Hezbollah continue to taunt Israel with its threats to assault the country with its growing arsenal of long-range missiles, Israel would have to go to war.

>> Thirteen Israeli border points raising tensions with Lebanon ■ Satellite images of Iranian military base in Syria may portend an Israeli strike | Analysis

"They've told us in no uncertain terms that if this threat continues — they keep making rockets that can hit the airport and do a lot of damage to the State of Israel — they are going to have to go in," Bloomberg News quoted Graham as telling reporters earlier this week.

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"Southern Lebanon is where the next war is coming," Graham said at a press conference following the bipartisan trip to the Middle East that he had participated in.

Graham had referred to a report in January that revealed that Hezbollah, backed by Iran, has been constructing a precision weapons factory in Lebanon despite continued Israeli calls for the group to disarm.

The U.S. charged that a lack of a regional strategy to counter Iran, that is considered to be a staunch supporter and funder of Hezbollah, is accountable for the Shi'ite terror organization's ability to have amassed a significant amount of ammunition to the point that it boasts of a rocket factory capable of launching missiles that threaten the Israeli home front.

"They are testing Trump," Graham said. "They are testing the international community," he said of Tehran's entrenchment in the region.

Speaking of his interaction with Israeli officials, Graham related that they had two major requests for American lawmakers: The first one was military support in the form of "ammunition, ammunition, ammunition," and the second was the U.S.'s backing should Israel have to resort to striking civilian targets in Lebanon, where it believes Hezbollah is operating.

Nonetheless, the U.S. isn't rushing to launch a full-out offensive against Iran, General Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. Central Command, said in an address to the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. He did acknowledge that "Iran's malign activities across the region pose a long-term threat to stability in this part of the world."

The Israeli military warned last month that Iran has resumed building the precision weapons factory in Lebanon.

According to the Israeli assessment, Iran wants to step up its efforts to improve the accuracy of Hezbollah's missiles and rockets and, as foreign media have reported, the Israeli Air Force has attacked some of the convoys smuggling precision weapons from Syria to Lebanon. This is something that Israel has indirectly admitted on several occasions. As a result, the Iranians have been seeking to get around this obstacle by transferring production facilities to Lebanon itself.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem on February 22, 2018.
Sebastian Scheiner/AP