The Iranian Fars
news agency in Lebanon quoted a senior Hizbullah official Wednesday as saying that the organization has set a new target for itself - the city of Netanya.
"Hizbullah has not yet shown the Zionist regime and its supporters its full rocket-launching capabilities," said Fuad Dirani, a commander in Hizbullah, and called for the residents of Netanya to evacuate their homes because "soon the range of our rockets will reach 100 kilometers (62 miles) into Israel and we will attack military installations and infrastructure."
Earlier Wednesday, Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, looking extremely tired, defiantly vowed that his fighters would begin firing rockets deeper into Israel, beyond the northern port of Haifa, and said the Jewish state's two-week-long military offensive against Lebanon was linked to a US-Israeli plan for "a new Middle East."
"I declare that we will enter the 'beyond Haifa' stage," the bearded and black-turbanned Shi'ite cleric said in a speech on Hizbullah's al-Manar
television in the early hours of Wednesday. "In the new stage, our attacks will not remain limited to Haifa. Irrespective of the reaction of the enemy forces on the rocketing of Haifa, we will move to the stage of beyond Haifa."
Nasrallah appeared to mock Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who just concluded the first American diplomatic foray in the region since the fighting began July 12 and repeatedly said there was no place in "a new Middle East" for Hizbullah or other Islamist groups bent on Israel's destruction.
Rice also backed Israel's refusal to negotiate a quick cease-fire, claiming a lasting settlement could not be reached until Hizbullah was disarmed and unable to launch rocket attacks on Israeli towns and villages.
Nasrallah, however, appeared to be counting growing international anger at the US-Israeli position and urged his people to be patient. Hundreds of Lebanese, most of them believed to be civilians, have died in Israel attacks.
"Our steadfastness will change the regional and international reality around us. The enemy won't have a lot of time, no matter what cover the American administration is providing it," Nasrallah said, in a fiery address also was carried by Lebanese television stations and Arab satellite channels.
Nasrallah said his organization was ready to discuss an end to the fighting, but the dignity and national interest of Lebanon was what he termed a "red line," a reference to the heavy Israeli bombing and ground assaults on the country, including repeated attacks on Hezbollah-dominated regions in south Beirut and the Bekaa valley near the Syrian border.
"There is no way that we can accept the imposition of any humiliating conditions on us, our people or our country ... especially after all these sacrifices. ... We are open to political discussions and solutions with flexibility, but the dignity and national interest (of Lebanon) is a red line.
"In an American and Zionist assessment, there are obstacles to a new Middle East. In the new Middle East, the Palestinian cause should be liquidated," Nasrallah said.
"In the new Middle East, there is no place for any resistance movement. The resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon must be eliminated," Nasrallah added, referring to Hamas.
He said Israel could not win a ground war against his guerrilla fighters, who would continue firing rockets into Israel no matter how far north Israeli forces penetrated into Lebanon.
"The goal of the incursion to prevent the rocketing of the settlements will not be achieved," he said. "The rocketing will continue no matter what the incursion is. We are ready for a ground confrontation. We will have the upper hand in a ground confrontation. We will recover any land occupied by the enemy," Nasrallah said.