BEIRUT – Iranian President Mahamoud Ahmadinejad yesterday said Israel and the Zionists will not last long during his visit in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon, just two miles from the Israeli border.

According to Lebanon’s National News Agency, Ahmadinejad addressed thousands of Hezbollah supporters at a rally in Bint Jbeil, which was heavily bombed in the 34-day war with Israel in 2006. Ahmadinejad’s tour was heavily criticized, mainly by the United States, on fears of involvement of Hezbollah.

The U.S. and Israel also criticized the visit of the Iranian leader to the Lebanese-Israel border as tensions are high these days. Many consider the visit an attempt to set up an advanced front line for a proxy war between Iran and Israel.

“Bint Jbeil is alive and today stands proud and cherished against all enemies, whereas the Zionists are mortal after the sons of Bint Jbeil made the enemy taste defeat. There is no option before the Zionists but to surrender to facts on the ground or return to their original countries,” the Iranian leader said.

The Iranian president praised Lebanon’s resistance and said Iran will stand by its side in all circumstances. He also remarked on Lebanon’s defiance against Israel and the Western powers. After that he went to Qana, another region bombed by Israel which resulted in the killing of 105 civilians in 1996.

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the most affected by Ahmadinejad’s rally were the Lebanese people. He added that the best response to the “Death to Israel” chants heard in Bint Jbeil was made 62 years ago in the declaration of the state.

“Unfortunately, Lebanon is quickly turning into an extension of the Iranian ayatollah regime. This is a tragedy for Lebanon, but Israel knows how to protect itself from this development,” Netanyahu said.

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