Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said his organization was not interested in another bout of fighting with Israel, but, that if such a conflict were to break out, the Israelis would be faced with "larger surprises" than in last year's war. In a televised address to a mass rally in Beirut's southern suburbs on Tuesday, Nasrallah added that Hizbullah was in possession of rockets that could reach any point in Israel, but qualified the statement by saying it was not a threat of war but rather "the hope to forestall it." The Hizbullah leader went on to say that the US and Israel tried to split the Lebanese along sectarian lines and to describe the Shi'ite Muslim Hizbullah as a terrorist group in order to weaken it during the 34-day war.
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"They (America and Israel) wanted to tear us apart. They wanted to use war to isolate us one country after the other, one people after the other, one sect after the other and one party after the other," Nasrallah, a Hizbullah stronghold that was heavily bombed by the IAF during last year's war.
"When we are divided, they will win and we will be defeated," he said.
The rally was organized by the Shi'ite Muslim group to mark the first anniversary of the war with Israel, which Hizbullah says it won and calls "a divine victory."
Nasrallah did not personally attend the rally. His speech was relayed to the crowd on giant screens set up in a stadium and on top of buildings in the southern suburbs.
"They told (the Lebanese) that Hizbullah is an Iranian and Syrian tool," Nasrallah said.
"The most serious accusation was the sectarian issue. They told the Christians that the fighting was with a Muslim group and that it has nothing to do with you. They told Sunni Muslims that the fighting was with a Shi'ite group and was targeting the Shi'ite project (in the region)," Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah added the alleged US-Israeli scheme to drive a wedge among the Lebanese had failed because the Lebanese, both Muslims and Christians, rallied behind Hizbullah during the devastating war.
He thanked Arab and Muslim leaders and governments for standing behind Lebanon during "the American-Israeli aggression on Lebanon and the Lebanese people."
Celebratory gunshots and fireworks erupted in Beirut's pro-Hizbullah suburbs for several minutes as Nasrallah talked.