BEIRUT, Lebanon – Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Friday, January 30 his Shiite militant group is not seeking confrontation with Israel but warned their conflict could go beyond Lebanon’s borders in any new war.
Its response to any future Israeli attack will no longer be limited to Lebanese territory, he said in an address via video link to thousands of supporters gathered in Hezbollah’s southern Beirut stronghold.
He said Hezbollah would no longer respect “the rules of engagement”.
“We do not want war… but the resistance is militarily ready, and we are not afraid of war,” Nasrallah said, using the term “resistance” to refer to Hezbollah.
“You tested us, do not test us again,” he warned. (READ: Hezbollah will pay ‘full price’ for deadly attack – Israel)
His address came two days after Hezbollah carried out a missile strike that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven others in south Lebanon’s occupied Shebaa Farms area on the border.
The Shebaa Farms have been under Israeli occupation since the 1967 Middle East war. Lebanon says the Shebaa Farms is Lebanese territory, while the UN says it was annexed from Syria.
The strike was in retaliation for a January 18 Israeli air strike inside Syria that killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general.
The Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee head, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, visited Beirut on Friday for the Hezbollah rally.
“I want to be clear: the resistance will no longer recognize any such thing as the rules of engagement, or of confrontation,” said Nasrallah, appearing both defiant and relaxed.
“It is our right – legally, in human terms and morally – to face the enemy anywhere, any time and in any way we deem appropriate,” he warned.
Nasrallah condemned Israel’s air strike on the Syrian-held sector of the Golan Heights as “an assassination carried out in broad daylight”.
“We will bear Israel responsible for any (future) killing in cold blood of a Hezbollah youth,” he added.
Nasrallah also said the fact that an Iranian general had been killed alongside Hezbollah fighters on Syrian territory proved their “unity in cause, fate and battle”.
He said Hezbollah planned its counter-strike against Israel, which he described as “highly professional… and intelligent”, just a few hours after the Golan attack.
“They killed us in broad daylight, and we did too,” said Nasrallah, adding that Israel’s strike was at “11:30 am (0930 GMT) or 11:45 (0945 GMT), and ours was at 11:25 (0925 GMT) or 11:35 (0935 GMT).”
He added: “They killed and wounded our men, we killed and wounded theirs. Missiles for missiles.”
Posters of the Lebanese and the Iranian killed were plastered in the hall where the Hezbollah supporters gathered for the speech.
The supporters waved the movement’s green and yellow flags, chanting slogans in support of Nasrallah. – Rappler.com