Hizbullah: We can strike all of Israel

Members hiding rocket arsenal in southern villages to avoid IDF, UN troops.

katyushas 298 .88 ap (photo credit: AP)
katyushas 298 .88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Hizbullah has the ability to launch rockets against any point in Israel, the organization's leader, Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday. He told Al Jazeera that Hizbullah had the capability to strike every part of Israel during last summer's war, and retains that capability. "Even in the months of July and August 2006 there was not one place in occupied Palestine that we could not reach, every point and every corner," Nasrallah was quoted as saying. "I stress that we can do this today as well." The full interview is due to be broadcast by the Qatari-based satellite television on Monday. Meanwhile, Hizbullah guerrillas have moved most of their rockets in south Lebanon among civilians in villages, an apparent attempt to avoid detection by Israel and UN troops, Israeli military officials said Sunday. The new moves are part of Hizbullah's reorganization after last summer's Second Lebanon War, the officials said. During that 34-day conflict, Hizbullah fired almost 4,000 rockets at Israeli population centers, and Israeli land and air assaults caused heavy damage to Lebanese towns and neighborhoods. Lebanon criticized Israel for targeting civilian areas, while Israel said Hizbullah was to blame for operating among civilians and putting them at risk. Last summer, many of Hizbullah's rocket batteries were located in unpopulated rural areas, where the guerrillas dug networks of tunnels and fortifications, the officials said. But the army's new intelligence indicates that those positions have now largely been abandoned in favor of populated villages, which provide better cover for the group's activities. The UN-brokered cease-fire that ended the war expanded UNIFIL, the international peacekeeping force in south Lebanon, to 13,000 troops, entrusting it with ensuring that Hizbullah is not rearming near the Lebanon-Israel border. Yasmina Bouziane, a UNIFIL spokeswoman in Lebanon, refused to comment on the Israeli charges. A Hizbullah official in Beirut also refused to comment on the allegations. The official said only that in the past, Hizbullah guerrillas fired rockets at Israel from valleys and mountainous areas and not from inside villages. The Israeli officials said Hizbullah's postwar efforts also included the construction of new fortifications north of the Litani River, farther from the Israeli border and out of UNIFIL's jurisdiction. Last summer's conflict began when Hizbullah men attacked an Israeli border patrol killing three soldiers and capturing two. The fighting left 159 Israelis dead, including 119 soldiers, while in Lebanon more than 1,000 people died, most of them civilians, according to counts by human rights groups, the Lebanese government and The Associated Press.