Binyamin Netanyahu (file)
Binyamin Netanyahu (file)Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited the Independence Pavilion in Tel Aviv Thursday and made an oblique reference to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to southern Lebanon. “Today we heard the curses and epithets from the Lebanese border,” he said. “The best answer to those who curse was given here 62 years ago: the state and all that we have built and created since then. Look at this nation, look at this state, look at the army that the nation of Israel has. We will continue to build continue to create our state and we will know very well how to defend ourselves.” 

Ahmadinejad toured southern Lebanon Thursday, in a move meant to demonstrate his country's control of Israel's northern neighbor and to provoke Israel. Hizbullah's Al Manar news network reported that an Israel Air Force UAV patrolled southern Lebanon's skies at the same time.

Ahmadinejad spoke before thousands of supporters in the afternoon at Bint Jbeil, the scene of a battle between the IDF and Iranian puppet militia Hizbullah in the Second Lebanon War. As predicted by expert Mordechai Kedar on Arutz Sheva, Ahmadinejad told the audience: “You fought at the front line against the aggressors and Zionist occupiers,” adding: “You proved that no country will succeed in breaking the Lebanese resistance.”

He predicted that “the Zionists will go back to the place they came from.”

Bint Jbeil, he said, “is “the capital of freedom, the capital of resistance.” The town, he said, “holds its head high and will hold out until the last moment” whereas “the Zionists will not last long.”

"It is a provocative and destabilizing visit," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP. "It appears his intentions are blatantly hostile and he is coming to play with fire."

The bellicose president is scheduled to visit Maroun a-Ras as well and was reportedly scheduled to head back to Beirut before dark.

The IDF under the command of Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz entered both Bint Jbeil and Maroun a-Ras in the Second Lebanon War and later faced criticism in Israel for what some saw as a disappointing performance. The country's political leadership, under Ehud Olmert, was also blamed for being indecisive regarding what it wanted the army to do, thus confusing the military and making its job very difficult. The criticism prodded the IDF into a period of extensive retraining under the next chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.

Ahmadinejad received an honorary doctor's degree from Beirut University earlier in the day.

Dozens of Israelis took part in a protest Thursday against Ahmadinejad at Avivim, a community near the northern border. They floated balloons in Israel's national colors of blue and white, which bore the words “the Eternal G-d of Israel does not lie,” from the First Book of Samuel.

Among the demonstrators was Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud), who organized the event. He called on the government to stop ignoring the Iranian leader's presence in Lebanon. “I decided to come here despite the fact that Israel's [official] position is to ignore the visit. This restraint and disregard is what brought about  Ahmadinejad's current control over Lebanon.”

The nation of Israel has a long history of facing enemies who swear to annihilate it, as Ahmadinejad does. The Passover Hagaddah recounts that “in every generation, they arise to destroy us, and the Holy One, Blessed Be He saves us from them.”

In the Mesha stele, a tablet discovered in what is now Jordan, the king of ancient Moab declares that he fought against a Jewish king, but was victorious, adding: “And Israel suffered everlasting destruction.” The tablet dates from the 9th century BCE. There are no traceable Moabites in the world today..