BEIRUT — Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah spoke during the annual commemoration of the 2006 victory of Lebanon’s second war with Israel, addressing his support for Iran and saying he sees it as a partner that not only threatens Israel, but also views itself as a proud part of an “axis of resistance” against the U.S. and its allies’ foreign policy.
“Our collective responsibility in the region is to work towards preventing an American war on Iran,” Nasrallah said. “Neither Saudi Arabia nor the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had any interest in conflict.”
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hezbollah that Israel would deal a “crushing” blow to Lebanon if it attacks two days after Nasrallah warned Israel that it could be “wiped out” during a potential war between the United States and Iran.
“Over the weekend we heard Nasrallah’s arrogant words about his attack plans,” Netanyahu said after his weekly cabinet meeting. “Let me be clear that if Hezbollah dares to commit an act of stupidity and attack Israel — we will deal it and Lebanon a crushing military blow.”
During his speech, Nasrallah said Hezbollah is prepared for a war with Israel.
“We are prepared to invade the Galilee,” [North of Israel] Nasrallah said.
While Nasrallah’s goal in mentioning the Galilee was to frighten Israel and provoke some kind of response, his tone seemed to deliver the message that Hezbollah, with Iran as its ally, has a military that is on par with Israel.
“Iran is able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force,” Nasrallah said during his speech. “…When the Americans understand that this war could wipe out Israel, they will reconsider.”
Nasrallah also added that his Iran-backed group had “significantly” improved its military capabilities since the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.
“Our weapons have been developed in both quality and quantity,” he said. “We have precision missiles and drones.”
In response, Israel warned Hezbollah not to try and invade Galilee, especially after it was recently uncovered that several attack tunnels were built deep into Israel by Hezbollah to allow its fighters to enter into Israel.
The exchange came amid soaring tensions between the U.S. and Iran and after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to restrict President Trump’s ability to attack Iran, voicing fear that his aggressive policies are pushing toward a needless war.
Although considered as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the EU, Hezbollah is a major political player in Lebanon and the Middle East region, taking 13 seats in parliament last year and securing three posts in the current cabinet.