Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned Wednesday against letting the nationalistic Jerusalem Day flag March pass through the capital's Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter, saying it could spark "a major explosion."
"Our biggest fear is that the marchers will enter the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and harm it," he said during a speech on Lebanon's Liberation Day which marks Israel's withdrawal from Southern Lebanon and the end of a two and a half-decade long conflict there.
"I want to tell the Israeli government and everyone involved – any harm to al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock will lead to a major explosion in the region. This is a provocation against all Arab and Muslim peoples."
He further described marchers as "settlers" and "extremist zealots" and added that "the Zionists know they are not in a position to walk this distance" since "they have their own crises."
The Hezbollah leader also mocked Israel for an incident in which Iron Dome missile defense system operators fired interceptors at an Israeli drone, nearly hitting it.
"A few days ago, we saw the incident with the drone. All this at high alert… and still they misidentified the drone. They thought it was Hezbollah's, and found out it was their own. This is the reality with the enemy," he said.
"Since 1948, [Israel] has not been as weak as it is now, especially in its internal affairs. Therefore, the enemy government must not take any steps that could be destructive for the Zionist entity and threaten its existence."
As part of Liberation Day celebrations, several dozen Lebanese demonstrated near the northern border fence. According to Lebanese reports and the IDF, Israeli forces employed riot control measures at one location. There were no reports of casualties on either side.
During his speech on last year's Liberation Day, Nasrallah looked ill and weak and coughed throughout the entire 90-minute event. He warned that the tense situation in Jerusalem at that time could spark a regional war.
He noted at the beginning of his speech at the time that he had disappeared for two weeks due to illness, but as far as is known, he did not contract COVID-19.
Earlier on Wednesday, Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai ordered high alert in Jerusalem and other cities with mixed Jewish-Arab populations ahead of the nationalist flag march.
As per the order, more than 3,000 police officers will be deployed in Jerusalem and hundreds more in mixed cities as police fear violence might ignite in a repeat of last year's Jerusalem Day when high tensions eventually culminated in violent racially motivated riots across the country and an 11-day conflict in the Gaza Strip.