Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday visited the small Lebanese village of Bint Jbil just two-and-a-half miles from the Israeli border and unleashed a tirade against the “Zionist entity.”
The Zionists “will not last long,” Ahmadinejad told to the thousands of Hizballah members and supporters that came to hear him, imploring the terrorist militia to “bring defeat to the Zionists! [Send them] back where they came from.”
Nor did he stop at just attacking Israel. Ahmadinejad went on to suggest that Jews in general “are responsible for the economic crisis and air pollution in the world.”
Israelis gathered just across the border in the village of Misgav Am responded by calling Ahmadinejad a tyrant and releasing 2,000 blue and white balloons into the sky in commemoration of the Jews’ return to the Land of Israel after 2,000 years of exile.
During the entire showdown, Israeli helicopters buzzed the border as a deterrent against Hizballah using the occasion to launch a few missiles into northern Israel.
The Iranian leader was in Lebanon to meet with the heads of Hizballah, a large and well-armed militia that also enjoys veto power over the Lebanese government. Hizballah receives the bulk of its funding and logistical aid from Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the nature of Ahmadinejad’s visit provided further evidence that “Lebanon is quickly turning into an extension of the Iranian ayatollah regime.”
“This is a tragedy for Lebanon,” continued Netanyahu, “but Israel knows how to protect itself from this development.”
The US State Department criticized the visit, insisting that the fact Ahmadinejad came to Lebanon to meet with his nation’s proxies on the ground there was an insult to Lebanese sovereignty.
The American response may go further than just criticism. Two congressional leaders have used the nature of Ahmadinejad’s visit to put a hold on $100 million in US military aid to Lebanon. They another lawmakers fear that any American aid sent to Lebanon now will inevitably end up in the hands of Hizballah, and therefore benefit Iranian interests in the region.