Israel vows to ‘go after the head of the snake’ in Iran if Hezbollah joins war as northern border tensions rise

22 October 2023, 00:19 | Updated: 22 October 2023, 00:21

The Israeli Minister of Economy has warned Iran-backed group Hezbollah against attacking Israel.
The Israeli Minister of Economy has warned Iran-backed group Hezbollah against attacking Israel. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Israel has vowed to cut off “the head of the snake” and launch a military attack on Iran if Hezbollah joins the war, while the US has urged Sunak to ban Iran’s terrorist forces.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Nik Barkat, Israel’s Minister of Economy, has warned Iran that should the Tehran-backed group Hezbollah attack Israel, they will "get the same treatment" as Gaza.

He warned that if the group attacked Israel, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) would not only “eliminate Hezbollah” but would “actually target Iran”.

“If we find they intend to target Israel, we will not just retaliate to those fronts, but we will go to the head of the snake, which is Iran,” Mr Barkat told The Mail on Sunday.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is among those to have warned that Israel now faces the threat of the “heavily armed, Iranian-backed force of Hezbollah” on its northern border.

Mr Barkat continued: “The Ayatollahs in Iran are not going to sleep good at night, we are going to make sure they pay a heavy price if, God forbid, they open the northern front.

“Lebanon and Hezbollah are going to pay a heavy price, similar to what Hamas is going to pay. But that's not 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.

An anti-Israel march was held in Iran on Friday.
An anti-Israel march was held in Iran on Friday. Picture: Alamy

“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.”

Hezbollah is one of the most powerful paramilitary forces in the Middle East, with some 20,000 fighters, and has been trading fires with Israel since October 7.

The group’s involvement in the Israel-Hamas war has left many concerned the conflict could spread to Lebanon as Hezbollah is a Lebanon-based group and ally of Hamas, and Israel's threat of a ground invasion on Gaza looms.

It also follows the war that broke out between Israel and Lebanon in 2006 after Hezbollah launched missiles at various Israeli cities.

Mr Barkat's warning comes as the US has also called on the UK to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation amid Tehran’s alleged role in Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel that saw 1,400 people massacred.

“We absolutely think that other countries should designate the IRGC as a terrorist organisation,” the US State Department’s official spokesman Matthew Miller said.

“It’s a position that we’ve made clear a number of times. They finance terrorist activities, they have around the world for some time, and we think that other countries should take that step of designating them.”

Read more: Israel is under 'no obligation' to supply Gaza, IDF spokesperson tells Sangita Myska

Read more: Israel reveals plans to sever links with Gaza as part of a 'three phase' war with airstrikes and ground manoeuvres

A rally was held in Iran on Friday.
A rally was held in Iran on Friday. Picture: Getty

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been banned in the US since 2019.

Several Tory MPs have already called on Mr Sunak to proscribe the organisation.

“The view from the American government can not be clearer, that they expect their allies to act and act swiftly to proscribe the IRGC,” former defence secretary Liam Fox said.

Senior members of Hamas claimed that IRGC officers worked with the group to coordinate its October 7 attack on Israel.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who is responsible for formally proscribing terror organisation, is understood to be fighting to designate the IRGC a terrorist group, according to The Telegraph.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, however, has said the “sanctions regime” was already achieving “many of the things people want” from a proscription.

Speaking at a peace summit in Cairo, Mr Cleverly also said: “We must work together to prevent the tragic situation in Gaza becoming a regional conflict because that is exactly what Hamas wants.”

Mr Sunak has warned against unleashing a “contagion of conflict” across the Middle East as he met with leaders in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt earlier this week.

“The overwhelming view I got from everyone I spoke to this week was that we need to do everything possible to stop a contagion of conflict in the region," he said.

"We need to keep our aspirations for a more peaceful and stable future firmly in our sights as we work together to defeat the evil of terrorism."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Breaking
Breaking News

England beat the West Indies by 241 runs in second Test at Trent Bridge

It comes as a TikTok sleuth who joined the hunt for missing teen Jay Slater said he believes the 19-year-old remains trapped in a Tenerife ravine.

Jay Slater's family blast trolls over bogus leads following sightings on the ‘Eurostar’ and ‘watching the Euros’

Four men found dead in car following horror collision with tree

Four men found dead in car following horror collision with tree

The M25 motorway closures are to set to cause travel chaos

Motorway misery: M25, M4 and M1 closures set to disrupt drivers this week – find out if you’re affected

Giovanni Pernice is expecting to be cleared following a misconduct probe, it is understood.

Ex-Strictly pro Giovanni Pernice 'expects to be cleared' amid misconduct allegations

The Prince Albert memorial has been 'considered offensive'

Prince Albert Memorial branded 'offensive' as it reflects 'Victorian view of the world'

Lord Falconer has said 'the time has come' for assisted dying reform

'The time has come': Lord Falconer calls for 'significant' assisted dying reform ahead of his new bill being introduced

An independent review recommended teachers and nurses get 5.5% pay rises

'There's also a cost to no deal': Treasury minister hints at above-inflation pay rise for public sector workers

Yvette Cooper vows to crackdown on illegal immigration

Beauty salons and car washes to be targeted in illegal immigration blitz as Home Secretary redeploys Rwanda scheme staff

Sarah Justine Packwood, 54, and her husband, Brett Clibbery, 70.

Mystery as Brit woman and husband attempting to cross Atlantic found dead in lifeboat one month after going missing

Exclusive
Five days of big names: LBC announces guest host week

Five days of big names: LBC announces guest host week

Rachel Reeves

Rachel Reeves vows 'big bang' for pensions as government launches review in bid to boost investment and savings

Amanda Abbington has claimed Giovanni Pernice was 'cruel and abusive'.

Strictly's Amanda Abbington breaks silence over 'cruel' Giovanni Pernice - as first female pro under fire

Donald Trump spoke at a rally for the first time since he was shot in the ear

Donald Trump says he ‘took a bullet for democracy’ at first rally since assassination attempt

A burnt out car in the Leeds suburb of Harehills, after vehicles were set on fire and a police car was overturned as residents were warned to stay home following an outbreak of disorder on Thursday evening. Picture date: Friday July 19, 2024.

Man charged with arson after bus set on fire in Leeds riots over children allegedly removed from local family

Craig Revel Horwood has said the recent allegations have come as a 'shock' to him

Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood breaks silence after 'shock' of dancing show's abuse allegations