Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanese terror group and Iranian proxy Hezbollah, said on Thursday that any possible future war with Israel could be waged inside Israeli territory.
In a televised speech in which he also discussed the group’s heavy involvement in the Syrian civil war, Nasrallah said Israel was “scared and worried of any future confrontation… and knows that it could be inside the occupied Palestinian territories,” according to a translation provided by Reuters.
Nasrallah was speaking on the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah military commander Mustafa Badreddine in Syria, a hit attributed to Israel. Israel’s IDF Chief Gadi Eisenkot said earlier this year that Badreddine was killed by his own men.
Badreddine was killed on May 10, 2016 in a mysterious explosion near Damascus airport shortly after a meeting with his commanders, according to Lebanese media. Badreddine had inherited the leadership of Hezbollah’s terrorist operations from former commander and cousin Imad Mughniyeh, who is believed to have been assassinated by Israel in 2008. Badreddine’s sister, Saada, was reportedly married to Mughniyeh.
In his speech Thursday, Nasrallah said that “Hezbollah soldiers and rockets can reach all the positions across the Zionist entity during any upcoming war,” according to Hezbollah news site Al-Manar.
He criticized Israel’s efforts to bolster the border area, a project which has been under way for some time. In 2012, a seven-meter (23-foot) high wall separating Israel from Lebanon near the border town of Metulla was completed. The 1,200-meter-long (3,937-foot) wall is outfitted with sophisticated cameras and sensory equipment aimed at preventing infiltration. The 2006 Second Lebanon War began with a cross-border attack by Hezbollah. Last year, it put up concrete wall near Kibbutz Misgav Am in the north.
Nasrallah said these were an acknowledgement of defeat.
“This border wall is an acknowledgment of Lebanon’s massive victory and Israel’s defeat. It is a defeat of Israel’s schemes and ambitions and an acknowledgment of the fall of the Greater Israel project which wanted to establish a state from the Nile to the Euphrates,” Naharnet quoted him as saying.
“When Israel hides behind high walls, it means that it is ‘weaker than a spider’s web,'” he said, repeated a phrase he often uses in anti-Israel speeches.
He also urged the Lebanese people to not be afraid, claiming that “talk of an Israeli war on Lebanon and the resistance that has been going on for months now is part of the usual psychological war and the people should not fear it,” he said.
“I call on the Lebanese people and all those living in Lebanon to live their normal life, seeing as Israel has been launching threats for 12 years. Trust God who gave you several victories and trust your golden army-people-resistance equation,” he said.
Turning to Lebanon’s eastern border, Nasrallah said the group was pulling back from positions along the border with Syria after securing it.
“The mission is accomplished,” he said.
The group has sent thousands of its supporters to Syria to shore up President Bashar Assad’s military in Syria’s civil war and continues to be engaged in battles across many parts of the war-torn country. Its fighters have also fought battles against Sunni militants along the northeastern border with Syria.
Nasrallah said the group will maintain a security presence along the border with Syria to protect against any new infiltration by militants.
Last month, a Hezbollah officer gave a field tour to Lebanese journalists along the Lebanese border with Israel, detailing the Jewish state’s new defenses and claiming Israel had switched to a “defensive” doctrine for the first time in its history.
The tour sought to paint Israel as afraid of a new conflict, while depicting Hezbollah as ready for war despite having committed thousands of its fighters to bolstering Assad.
The Hezbollah officer, surrounded by a group of clamoring journalists, concentrated his talk on “the geographic reality and the spread of the Zionist enemy, and the defensive measures the enemy has taken lately.”
“For the past year, the enemy has begun to build fortifications, obstacles, and extensive means of defense to stop people from moving toward him,” he said.
Hezbollah also showed off some of its weaponry, inviting photographers to take pictures of its armed gunmen.
Some analysts believe Hezbollah would be hard-pressed to fight on two fronts, Syria and Israel, but others note the group’s combatants have also gained new experience during years of battle in the Syrian conflict.