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In a speech broadcast Saturday evening on Al Manar, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah praised the tenacity of the Lebanese people, who were "standing strong" in the face of "the Zionist aggression."
[For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here]
"Your strength will break them," Nasrallah encouraged the Lebanese, and promised that those who had fled their homes would return "with their heads held high and your self-respect intact."
The Hizbullah leader painted a grave picture of Israel's losses, insisting that Israel had not achieved any military victory, and that its losses during the two and a half weeks of violent conflict had been much greater than reported, and exulted that "two million" Israelis have been forced out of their homes or into bomb shelters.
The threat to Israel's civilians, Nasrallah predicted, would only grow when Hizbullah chose to aim at cities beyond Haifa. However, the sheikh declared, Israel had already lost its confidence.
"[They] can hide military losses," he said, "but not the loss of Israelis' belief in their 'legendary' army, in their leadership."
Nasrallah exulted over Israel's losses thus far, pointing out that Golani forces had suffered a blow during the fighting at Bint Jbail in southern Lebanon, and recounting the "destruction" of what he called the Israel Navy's "most important" ship.
Israel has achieved no military victory, he insisted, and its operations in Lebanon were merely ruining infrastructure and killing innocent civilians. However, the sheikh claimed that Israel was ready to accept a ceasefire, and was only continuing its offensive in Lebanon at the urging of the Americans.
"Israel is a tool of the United States," he said, arguing that the America insisted on war.
Nasrallah was unstinting in his praise of the Lebanese people and Hizbullah guerrillas, whom he called the "most noble, the most pure." The Lebanese people have no need to fear a Hizbullah victory - they should fear a Hizbullah defeat.
"To politicians who fear a Hizbullah victory - you saw one in Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon. It would be a victory for whole nation - for all Arabs," Nasrallah urged. "Such a victory would make Lebanon more beautiful than it was â€¦ it would unite our nation."
As far as the role of Syria and Iran in the outbreak of violence between Hizbullah and Israel, Nasrallah asserted that the two nations "Have never compromised Hizbullah. They are doing everything they can to stop Zionist aggression," he said. Nasrallah added that both Iran and Syria were acting with restraint so as not to appear to be exploiting the conflict for their own political purposes.
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