Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Lebanon is becoming an additional Iranian satellite, promising that Israel will know how to defend itself in the face of growing regional threats, Xinhua reported.
"This is a tragedy for Lebanon, but we in Israel will know how to defend ourselves and will continue to build our country," Netanyahu said in the weekly cabinet meeting held at a northern kibbutz (farming community) in honor of the 100th anniversary of the kibbutzim movement.
Netanyahu's remarks followed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil last Thursday. Addressing tens of thousands of Shiites in a rally organized by Hezbollah, Ahmadinejad vowed his country would continue to support the Lebanese people and their "resistance against Israel."
In further controversial rhetoric, Ahmadinejad on Sunday said Israel would "soon go to hell," calling on the West to shed its support for the Jewish state.
The Israeli cabinet's Sunday meeting was the first known time that ministers convened outside Jerusalem. Netanyahu promised a financial investment in the kibbutzim's national heritage sites, which have suffered neglect over past decades, and to continue investing in transportation infrastructure to link Israel's northern and southern towns to Tel Aviv, the country's economic and cultural hub.
Dozens of protesters gathered at the kibbutz while Netanyahu was speaking, and demanded that the government bring about the release of the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held in Hamas captivity since 2006.