Marking 20 years since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel of "the great war that will open all fronts at once," saying that it would be "the end of Israel." The Hezbollah leader stressed, however, that there are "no indications that Israel intends to launch a war against Lebanon."The statements were made during an interview with the Al-Nour Radio Station on Tuesday night, which was broadcast by the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV Channel.
Nasrallah warned that any Israeli air strike on Lebanon would "not pass without a response," adding that the terror group has "military capabilities that did not exist before 2006" and would respond if any Hezbollah terrorist was killed anywhere.
In reference to an airstrike on a Hezbollah vehicle along the Lebanon-Syria border a few weeks ago, Nasrallah stressed that Israel did not make a mistake in the strike and was not trying to kill the terrorists in the vehicle, because they knew that Hezbollah would respond if the terrorists were killed.
In possible reference to a series of airstrikes in recent years on Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria which were blamed on Israel, Nasrallah stated that while the Syrian leadership believes that it is not in the country's interest to be drawn into a war with Israel, the "patience and endurance of the Syrian leadership with Israeli aggression has limits."
Nasrallah also referred to a drone attack in the suburbs of Beirut last year that was blamed on Israel, saying that such an operation has not been repeated since and warning that Israeli aircraft in Lebanese airspace would be shot down.
Sightings of Israeli aircraft are reported in Lebanese airspace by local media on a weekly, if not daily, basis. A couple of quadcopters have been shot down near the border, but larger aircraft have reportedly flown in the airspace undamaged, with claims that air strikes on Syria have been carried out by Israeli aircraft from Lebanese airspace.
Both Hezbollah and Israel have the ability to initiate a conflict, said Nasrallah, but the balance of power created by the terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon takes into account a number of calculations, preventing a conflict at present.
"The Israeli enemy did not target us at the beginning, and it was providing support to the Syrian armed groups, not all the opposition,” he said, deeming that "Israel’s venturing into a battle between the wars in Syria was a victory for the axis of the resistance, and this is what made the Israeli resort to air strikes."
Nasrallah rejected calls for Hezbollah to surrender its weapons, asking those calling for such a measure to look at the "state of deterrence, a deterrence that is the protector of Lebanon," and asking anyone with a better method to state it. he claimed that the "level of support for the choice of resistance among the Palestinian people is higher than ever."
In Lebanon, however, Nasrallah admitted that "there was never national unity around the resistance in order to say that it once had a wide audience that it had lost. Even in 2000, the internal situation was not better than today." The secretary-general added that some Lebanese people believe Hezbollah is connected with Syria and Iran and isn't a Lebanese group at all.
Nasrallah insisted that Hezbollah is not trying to get the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon to leave the country, but questioned why Israel does not have any UNIFIL forces on its side of the Blue Line.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab; Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister Zeina Akar; and Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces Gen. Joseph Aoun are expected to visit UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura amid heightened tensions along the border with Israel, according to Lebanon's National News Agency.
An investigation into the shooting of a Syrian national by IDF troops after he infiltrated into Israeli territory near Mount Dov last week was completed by a joint Lebanese and UNIFIL investigation team. According to Lebanon’s National News Agency, the probe of the shooting will be submitted during the upcoming tripartite meeting chaired by UNIFIL.
Nasrallah also discussed domestic issues, stressing that corruption must be addressed by the judiciary and warning that sectarian divides in the country must also be addressed.Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.