Israel: Ahmadinejad's Lebanon Trip 'Highly Provocative'

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The U.S. and Israel are calling Iranian President's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent trip to Lebanon an outright provocation. Ahmadinejad spent two days in Lebanon, rallying the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah and even coming within a stone's throw of the Israeli border.

Click play to watch Julie Stahl's report, followed by comments from CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck on how Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon could signal more escalation of tension between Israel and Iran.

Ahmadinejad clearly sees Lebanon as an outpost in his war against the Jewish state.

On Wednesday, thousands of Hezbollah supporters welcomed Iranian leader Ahmadinejad on his first official visit to Lebanon.

His visit coincided with growing tensions between the Iranian-backed terror group and the Lebanese government parties backed by the West.

During a rally in Beirut, Ahmadinejad advised Americans to leave Afghanistan and Iraq, calling for the U.S. to apologize and compensate the people for their losses.

Israeli officials in Jerusalem said they weren't surprised by Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon, but they are concerned about what this development could mean for Israel's northern neighbor and for the region.

"This will not only embolden Hezbollah this will give them, I think the confidence that they need before they actually take over Lebanon," said Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Yigal Palmor.

Not everyone was happy about the visit. Allies of Lebanon's western-backed government warned that Ahmadinejad wants to turn the country into an Iranian base on the Mediterranean.

He even referred to Lebanon's border with Israel as the "Iranian Border."

Israel has been outspoken about the visit.

"This is a highly provocative visit as anyone can see," Palmor said. "He's coming with an attitude of a landlord inspecting his domain. He's bringing a message of extremism and violence."

Ahmadinejad put an emphasis on that message by going to a Hezbollah stronghold located only about two miles from the Israeli border. He told thousands of supporters that the Zionists would not last long and should surrender and return to their previous homes.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the comments "blasphemous curses." "Israel knows how to defend itself," he said.

Palmor said while Israel is not looking for war, the Iranian president has a clear motive.

"Ahmadinejad has preached nothing but war, violence and terrorism since he set foot on Lebanese soil to understand that this is what he's looking for and he's not even concealing his intention so we have to brace for the war, but hope for the best," he explained.

Palmor said this could be the last call for the international community to stop Iran from spreading its influence in the Middle East and at the same time, bringing even more terror and extremism along with it.

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Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Reporter

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