Arab world silent in face of Israeli 'aggression' in Gaza, Nasrallah says

Hezbollah leader went on to accuse Saudi Arabia of causing the collapse of ceasefires in Syria and thwarting peace talks.

May 6, 2016 20:53
Palestinian boys look out of their house in Beit Lahiya town in the northern Gaza Strip

Palestinian boys look out of their house in Beit Lahiya town in the northern Gaza Strip. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday condemned Israel for its military operations in the Gaza Strip.

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Hamas and the IDF exchanged hostilities sporadically over the course of the past 48 hours, with the Islamist movement firing mortars at Israeli soldiers operating near the Gaza-Israel frontier.

The IDF has retaliated with tank fire and fighter jet sorties against Hamas targets.

The Israeli military has been engaged in intensive efforts to ferret out and destroy Hamas-built tunnels that traverse the subterranean Gaza-Israel frontier.

"The Arab world is keeping quiet in light of this situation," Nasrallah said.

During an appearance on the official television organ Al Manar, Nasrallah criticized Arab regimes for failing to intervene. He said that Israel and the United States were waging war against Syria as a ploy to "knock down the remaining walls of the resistance in the region."

"We need to turn the world's attention to the Israeli aggression and bombardments in the Gaza Strip in recent days," the leader of the Iranian-backed Shi'ite group said.

Nasrallah went on to accuse Saudi Arabia of causing the collapse of ceasefires in Syria and thwarting peace talks by stepping up support to armed groups fighting against Syria's President Bashar Assad.

An escalation of fighting, particularly around the northern city of Aleppo, which has broken up talks to end the five-year civil war, was likely to continue because of Saudi military support and sectarian rhetoric, Nasrallah said, warning of "hard months" ahead.

Saudi Arabia and a number of other Sunni Muslim Arab states this year classed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

The group's involvement on the ground in Syria alongside the forces of its main backer, Iran, has been crucial for Assad, whose enemies are mainly Sunni fighters, many supported by regional powers including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

All sides have traded blame for the near-total collapse of a partial ceasefire brokered in February by the United States and Damascus ally, Russia. Attempts at other regional truces recently have mostly failed to hold.

"Saudi is pushing hard towards collapsing all forms of calm and ceasefires in Syria," Nasrallah said in a speech broadcast on Hezbollah's Al Manar television, blaming what he said were Saudi-funded groups for early violations of the wider truce in southern Aleppo province last month.

"On the battlefield Saudi is backing every step in the escalation (in fighting) ... and is working politically to thwart negotiations" hosted by the United Nations in Geneva, he said.

The latest and best-attended round of talks to end the conflict which has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced more than 11 million crumbled in recent weeks as fighting escalated.

"There are hard months (ahead). Saudi is spending more money, gathering more forces, rousing more mercenaries ... and making more religious and sectarian incitement," Nasrallah said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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