Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday doubled down on his recent saber-rattling against Israel and warned that his terror group would not hold back from attacking sensitive Israeli targets if the Jewish state goes to war with Lebanon.
During a television interview with Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, the terror chief repeated a previous threat to fire rockets at Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona and at a huge ammonia storage tank in Haifa.
Hezbollah will not keep to any “red lines” in a future war with Israel, Nasrallah cautioned.
“In the face of Israel’s threats to destroy Lebanon’s infrastructure, we will not abide by red lines, especially regarding Haifa’s ammonia and the nuclear reactor in Dimona. Hezbollah possesses the full courage for this,” he said, according to an English translation of his comments reported by the Naharnet website.
He also warned Israel to “count to a million” before going to war in Lebanon.
“We are not advocates of war. We are in the defense position,” Nasrallah said.
Israel and Hezbollah fought a punishing war in 2006, but have maintained a tense calm watched over by UN peacekeepers on the border since then, punctuated by several deadly cross-border incidents.
Israeli officials have raised alarms in recent years that Hezbollah may be bolstering its positions in southern Lebanon and in the Syrian Golan Heights, and a court recently ordered an ammonia tank in the city of Haifa to be shut amid fears a missile strike on the facility could cause mass casualties.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who draws support from Hezbollah, recently called for the terror group to remain armed to “resist Israel,” despite a UN resolution forbidding militias in Lebanon.
In other statements reported by IRNA-affiliated Press TV Monday night, Nasrallah offered reassurance to the Palestinians that they have not been forgotten. On Tuesday, a two-day international conference on the Palestinians was set to kick off in Iran with the participation of some 80 delegations.
“The most important result and message of this action for the Palestinian nation is that you have not been left alone and that an important and powerful country in the region supports you,” Nasrallah said.
The Hezbollah leader commented on US President Donald Trump’s statements last week during a press conference in Washington with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he said that Washington would no longer pursue only a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would look at any plan the sides agreed on.
Nasrallah said that Trump’s apparent bucking of decades of previous US policy supporting the two-state scheme was a positive development in that it showed Israel’s true intentions regarding the Palestinians.
Last Thursday Nasrallah boasted that his rockets could reach Israel’s nuclear reactor in the southern city of Dimona, and said he would turn Israel’s reported nuclear arsenal against it.
Nasrallah, who had previously threatened to target an ammonia tank in Haifa, claimed credit for an Israeli court decision to shut down that facility last week and said he would do the same with the nuclear reactor.
An assessment commissioned by the Haifa facility found that a strike on the tank, which holds some 12,000 tons of ammonia, could cause tens of thousands of injuries or deaths in the area.
In response to Nasrallah’s warnings, Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz threatened in a statement to target “all of Lebanon,” including infrastructures there, in retaliation for any attack on Israeli population centers or infrastructures. He also called for “debilitating sanctions” on Iran over its support for its “proxy and stooge” Nasrallah.
On Sunday, an Arabic newspaper reported that Nasrallah’s threats last week came after Israel passed a message to Hezbollah warning it of a forceful response to any attack from Lebanon or Syria, where Hezbollah has been helping prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime by fighting against rebel groups seeking to oust him.
The message was passed along to the Lebanon terror group via an unnamed Arab emissary, according to a report in the Arabic-language London-based Al-Hayat newspaper. It was not clear exactly when Israel sent the message or what prompted it.
International agencies believe Israel has over 100 nuclear weapons. Israel has neither confirmed or denied the existence of its nuclear arsenal, maintaining a policy of “nuclear ambiguity.”