NewsMax senior correspondent and Middle East expert Kenneth R. Timmerman is in Israel reporting on the conflict there. Timmerman reports from Kiryat Shemona in this exclusive interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu found this northern Israeli city a ghost town today when he came to meet the residents officials.

Those that stayed behind were few. They also were defiant ­ and so was he.

In a town meeting behind the heavy steel doors and reinforced concrete of the city hall bomb shelter, Netanyahu came to reassure residents that he fully supported the government in the war in Lebanon. He said as much even though he became leader of the opposition to Prime Minister Olmert following the March 2006 election.

One resident gave such praise to Netanyahu and his Likud party that Netanyahu joked that he should run for parliament.

An impassioned woman blasted the government for pussy-footing around in its ground offensive in Lebanon. She said she was ready to stay “six months in the shelters” if that was needed in order to finish off the Hezbollah rocket attacks.

Netanyahu told NewsMax in an exclusive interview that he did not believe it would take that long.

“Finish the job. That is the goal set by the government. It’s the goal that everyone here supports,” he said.

Sporadic mortar fire hit the hills above this empty city today, setting brush fires. On Sunday, over one hundred rockets and mortars pounded the city and its immediate surroundings.

An artillery batallion has camped two kilometers outside of town in an empty field, and pounds Hezbollah positions day and night.

Hezbollah rockets have landed within the Israelis artillery position over the past two weeks, and have injured several soldiers, but none seriously, NewsMax learned today from batallion troops and officers.

“Our ambulance was hit by a katyusha,” said Dr. Zev Wimpfheimer, the batallion doctor. Wimpfheimer, who hails from Teaneck, N.J., came to Israel two years ago and is nearing the end of his compulsory 18 months of military service as a doctor.

At 33, he is the oldest officer in the entire batallion, besides the batallion commander.

Netanyahu said that Iran was waging a “proxy war” against Israel and America, and that Hezbollah wouldn’t last “two days without Iran.”

The following is an exclusive NewsMax interview, held today, with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

NewsMax: What was the message you brought here to Kiryat Shemona?

Netanyahu: Finish the job. Don’t do half the job. Remove the threat by breaking Hezbollah’s fighting ability and destroying the missile arsenal. That is the goal set by the government. It’s the goal that everyone here supports.

You saw me meet somebody in there who said, “I’m willing to stay in the shelters six months,” perhaps not, and it won’t take that long ­ but finish the job. That’s the message.

NewsMax: Some people have called this Iran’s proxy war against Israel and America. Do you agree with that?

Netanyahu: Without a doubt. One hundred percent. Hezbollah doesn’t last two days without Iran. It doesn’t last three days without Syria.

NewsMax: What do you think are Iran’s goals?

Netanyahu: I think this is a test-fire, test-firing of rockets into a Western country. Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel. It denies the Holocaust while preparing a new Holocaust. But Iran is also committed to a demented branch of Shiism which sees an apocalyptic war of millions of casualties in which Shiism will rise and the West will go down.

We may be the first target, but we’re not the last target.

The other kind of fanaticism we witnessed 60 years ago, Nazism, also tried to arm itself with atomic weapons. These mad militancies start with attacks on the Jews, but they never end there. And ultimately the target is our free civilization.

NewsMax: World War II started with the Spanish Civil War. Is this like the Spanish Civil War, testing out the weapons, testing out the techniques and the tactics?

Netanyahu: I think that radical Islam declared a world war on the rest of the world a quarter of a century ago, with the victory of the Mujahedin in Afghanistan and the formation of al-Qaida and the establishment of the first radical Islamic republic in Iran.

These are expressions already of that same ideology that has been gurgling forth.

Now it has established two beachheads: one in Gaza with the Hamas, the other with Hezbollah in the north. And the citizens of the world beware.

What you see here is what you’ll get later.

Original article:

Kenneth R. Timmerman President, Middle East Data Project, Inc.
Author: Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran Contributing editor: Tel: 301-946-2918 Reply to: