Israel-Hezbollah war would mean ‘ruin of Third Temple’: general

Strikes have intensified across the Lebanon-Israel border in recent weeks, raising fears of an all-out war [Getty]

A new war against Lebanon’s Hezbollah could mean “the ruin of the Third Temple”, a retired Israeli general has warned in a scathing attack against the country’s prime minister and defence officials.

Retired Major General Itzhak Brik said he warned activists in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party several times against going to war with the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, which he says would spell doom for the Israeli state.

“If we attack, it will be the destruction of the Third Temple,” he told Israel’s Ynet.

The Third Temple is the hypothetical idea for the reconstruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, which, according to Jewish belief, will be built in the Messianic Age, succeeding the Temple of Solomon and the Second Temple, destroyed in 587 BCE and 70 CE respectively.

Many Jews believe the site of the temple is where the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, currently stands, although there is no hard evidence of this. Israeli extremists have called for the demolition of the mosque to make way for a new temple on the site.

Brik accused Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, and Israeli army chief of staff Herzi Halevi of wanting to sacrifice Israel and its people in a war with Hezbollah for political gain.

“The three – Netanyahu, Gallant and Herzi Halevi, are able to make such a decision – to die together with the entire people of Israel, because they understand that after the war, they have nowhere to go to,” Barik said.

“That’s why they are able to take a bet on the country.”

Israel and Hezbollah have been engaged in cross-border fighting in parallel with the Gaza war since October last year. The clashes have intensified in recent weeks amid growing regional and international concern regarding a wider conflict. The US is trying to mediate a settlement.

Brik told Ynet that, as opposed to Gallant and Halevi’s advice to Netanyahu, he has warned the prime minister not to go to war with Hezbollah, meeting with him six times since October.

“Gallant and Halevi advised Netanyahu to attack in the north eight months ago, the same time Hamas attacked,” Brik said, referring to the Palestinian group’s 7 October incursion in southern Israel. “I managed to convince him [Netanyahu] not to approve” the attack.

The problem today was Gallant and Halevi’s pressure on Netanyahu, Brik added, and warned that the prime minister’s gamble could head for a “bitter ending.”

Brik has frequently criticised Netanyahu over the Israeli military’s lack of preparedness for a ground offensive in Gaza, saying soldiers were not properly trained and lacked the equipment, logistical support, and even food needed for such an offensive.

In Gaza, more than 37,000 people have been killed in Israel’s bombardment and ground attacks, mostly women and children. In Lebanon, more than 400 have been killed in Israeli airstrikes and shelling, mostly fighters.

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