Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday insisted that although his group isn’t currently seeking war with Israel, it could defeat the Jewish state in a future conflict by targeting Haifa’s ammonia storage tanks, resulting in massive fatalities.
Dismissing recent reports of a possible outbreak of hostilities with Israel, Nasrallah said deterrence established by the terror organization in the first and second Lebanon wars was keeping Israeli aggression at bay.
“Israel’s psychological warfare is of no use against us,” he said in a speech that was broadcast by the Lebanese Naharnet news site.
As an example, Nasrallah said Israel “feared” the group’s cache of rockets capable of striking the ammonia facilities in Haifa, an attack that he said would result in casualties equivalent to those that would be caused by a nuclear attack.
He quoted an unnamed Israeli official to the effect that a strike on the northern city’s ammonia storage tanks would cause tens of thousands of fatalities.
“This would be exactly as a nuclear bomb, and we can say that Lebanon today has a nuclear bomb, seeing as any rocket that might hit these tanks is capable of creating a nuclear bomb effect,” he said, adding that Hezbollah, which has reportedly lost many of its men in the Syrian civil war, was continuing to boost its capabilities.
Hours after Nasrallah issued the explicit threat to strike Haifa, Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbai said he had ordered that the ammonia storage facility be moved to the Negev desert.
During his speech, the Hezbollah chief also accused Israel of behind-the-scenes intervention in Syria, speaking of an Israeli-Saudi-Turkish axis. He warned Saudi Arabia not to ally itself with Jerusalem over the conflict and slammed other Sunni states for moving closer to Israel.
“Do you accept a friend occupying Sunni land in Palestine? Can you become friends with an entity that has committed the most horrible massacres against the Sunni community?” he said.
“You are free to consider Iran an enemy, but how can you consider Israel a friend and ally? This issue must be confronted in a serious manner.
“It is beneficial to monitor the Israeli media to realize that the Israeli rhetoric has become identical to the rhetoric reflected in some Arab media, especially in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia,” Nasrallah charged.
His comments came on the heels of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call to Arab states with which Israel has covert ties to publicly acknowledge those relationships.
Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Sunday, the prime minister maintained that most moderate Arab countries see Israel as their ally, not their enemy, as they share a common struggle against Iran and the Islamic State.
Israel has long said there are secret back-channel talks between Jerusalem and Sunni states, however, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries maintain they will only normalize ties with the Jewish state once a peace deal is reached with the Palestinians via a two-state solution.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.