Hezbollah head warns Israel against war, threatens nuke sites
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Hezbollah head warns Israel against war, threatens nuke sites

Nasrallah tells followers conflict not imminent, but vows it will be without 'red lines,' says Israel's fear of high casualties can be 'exploited'

Supporters of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah group watch a televised speech by leader Hassan Nasrallah in the southern town of Insar, Lebanon, March 6, 2016. (AFP/Mahmoud Zayyat)
Supporters of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah group watch a televised speech by leader Hassan Nasrallah in the southern town of Insar, Lebanon, March 6, 2016. (AFP/Mahmoud Zayyat)

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Monday ruled out a war with Israel in the near future, but threatened the terror group would strike Israel’s nuclear facilities if the Israel Defense Forces “escalates its aggression against Lebanon.”

In an interview with al-Mayadeen TV, the leader of the Shiite terror group said Israel would not strike without US approval and said the Jewish state cares deeply about the human cost of war, a weakness that could be “exploited,” he claimed.

“Hezbollah does not want to launch a war, but the resistance will employ all means to defend Lebanon in case of any Israeli aggression,” Nasrallah said, according to a translation by the Hezbollah-run al-Manar TV. “If the Israeli army escalates its aggression against Lebanon, Hezbollah will strike all the strategic targets in the occupied Palestinian territories [Israel], including the nuclear facilities.”

Stepping up the threats further, he claimed the terror group is aware of the location of Israel’s chemical plants and nuclear facilities, which, if struck, would cause large numbers of casualties.

“There will be no ceiling, limits or red lines,” he said. “We can strike any target we want inside occupied Palestine.”

The rhetoric during the speech, largely focused on Israel, was unusually heated, even for a leader known for making bombastic statements threatening the Jewish state. The speech came as some have pointed to Hezbollah facing an unprecedented crisis, buffeted by Russia’s withdrawal from Syria and a recent blacklisting by Gulf states and the Arab League.

In February, Nasrallah explicitly threatened Haifa’s ammonia plant, prompting Israeli officials to call for the relocation of the factory. Hours later, Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay said he had ordered that the ammonia storage facility be moved to the Negev desert.

“Our rockets, combined with the ammonia storage facility in Haifa, will create the effect of a nuclear weapon,” Nasrallah had claimed at the time, boasting that such an attack would result in tens of thousands of fatalities.

On Monday, the terror leader again argued that Israel was deterred by Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal, which, according to analysts, number in the hundreds of thousands and can hit almost anywhere in the country. The Hezbollah leader also denied claims by Israel that it was distracted by the Syrian civil war.

“Some think that Hezbollah is preoccupied in Syria, but we have a team that is dedicated to the Israeli issue and everything the Israelis say,” he continued. He added that the group, which has fought in Syria to help bolster embattled President Bashar Assad, was informed ahead of time about Russia’s surprise withdrawal from the country last week.

“Hezbollah has managed to raise his ability to inflict heavy losses upon the Israeli army during any war, which delays the occurrence of any imminent confrontation,” he said. “The Israelis know that Hezbollah possesses rockets that can strike any position in the occupied Palestinian territories [Israel].”

Israel fought a bloody month-long war against Hezbollah in 2006, drawing thousands of rockets on the north of the country. According to Israeli figures, 121 soldiers and 44 civilians died during the conflict.

Nasrallah also said he was chagrined that Israel has nuclear capabilities while the terror group’s “defensive weaponry” is called into question.

“What is ironic is that Israel possesses nuclear weaponry and some parties criticize the resistance if it tries to obtain defensive weapons,” the leader of the terror group added, referring to Hezbollah.

“I will not disclose what weapons the resistance has, but it is the right of the resistance, Lebanese army and people, and the armies of the region to possess weapons that enable them to defend their existence and sovereignty… How can Netanyahu have the right to possess a nuclear weapon while we don’t have the right to possess a defensive weapon?” he said.

In his remarks, Nasrallah claimed that Israel “can never launch a war without gaining American approval” and the value Israel places on the lives of its citizens could be “exploited.”

“The cost is very important for Israel regarding the casualties and the psychological and economic repercussions,” he said, according to Naharnet. “Israel is keen on the lives of its settlers [citizens] and this is a point that can be exploited.”

The Arab League, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states blacklisted Hezbollah as a terror group earlier this month for “terrorist acts and incitement in Syria, Yemen and in Iraq,” in the process drawing criticism from the organization and its patron Iran, who accused the Saudis of backing “terrorists” in Syria and elsewhere.

Nasrallah made scant mention of the move during his speech.

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