Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous Post | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next Post »

LEBANON: Hezbollah says war with Israel is always a possibility

January 29, 2009 |  3:22 pm

The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said today that he was confident that his Shiite militia's military capacity would make Israel think twice about trying again to weaken the organization by launching another military confrontation.

During a rare press conference, during which he appeared to reporters on a giant screen for security reasons, Nasrallah maintained that the possibility of a war is always present.

Hezbollah’s chief was speaking on the occasion of the “freedom day," a date marking a major swap of prisoners with Israel in 2004.

Beyond the rhetoric that a new military confrontation would be “highly costly” and “highly difficult” for Israel after their first "failed" war in July 2006, Hezbollah’s leader was generally careful to make no signal of any plan to provoke a fight with the Israelis.

With the first anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah’s main military commander, Imad Mughniyeh, last February approaching, Nasrallah remained vague about a plan to retaliate for a killing largely believed to have been conducted by Israel.

Nasrallah said that all the evidence gathered so far indicates that Israel's clandestine Mossad service was behind the assassination of Mughniyeh, but said he would not divulge details regarding the time and the place of any Hezbollah response.

Israelis are concerned that Hezbollah might try to avenge the killing during the upcoming anniversary. The Israeli media constantly cite confidential sources alleging failed attempts by the Lebanese group to attack Israeli targets in Europe, Africa or Latin America.

With the crucial Lebanese elections in the coming soon, Hezbollah is aware of the heavy costs of a military confrontation with Israel.

Nasrallah repeated Hezbollah’s stance that it was not aware of the party that launched rockets on two separate occasions into northern Israel during the conflict in Gaza.

“We are still a resistance present to defend Lebanon. We did not get out of the circle of the conflict … What we did [for Gaza] was the maximum possible in Lebanon.”

In his first public statements after the cease-fire in Gaza, Nasrallah called the Israeli attack on Hamas a failure and continued to voice support for the Palestinian resistance group:

“The actual aim of the Gaza war was to subjugate and wipe out the resistance and topple the Hamas government … Israel has failed politically and militarily in Gaza.”

He added however that Gaza is still suffering from a blockade preventing humanitarian aid from reaching Palestinians. 

“The blockade of Gaza continues amid dire humanitarian and economic conditions … The war and aggression in Gaza is still going on, but in different form.”

-- Raed Rafei in Beirut