Coughing Nasrallah says Jerusalem abuses will spark regional war

Despite staying on sidelines during recent conflict, Hezbollah leader warns more groups will respond should Israel violate holy sites in capital

Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah coughs during a May 25, 2021, address (Twitter screenshot)
Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah coughs during a May 25, 2021, address (Twitter screenshot)

BEIRUT — The leader of Lebanese terror group Hezbollah said Tuesday any violations of Jerusalem and the sites holy to Muslims and Christians would lead to a regional war.

Speaking for the first time since the ceasefire ending the 11-day war between Hamas and Israel, Hassan Nasrallah said Gazan groups had proven that no one can sit idle when Israel attacks the holy sites or tries to undermine the Palestinians’ right to the city and warned his group could get involved next time around.

“The Israelis must understand that breaching the holy city and Al-Aqsa mosque and sanctuaries won’t stop at Gaza resistance,” Nasrallah said, referring to the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.

“Jerusalem means a regional war. All the resistance movements cannot stand by and watch this happening if the holy city is in real, grave danger,” he added.

Shiite Lebanese women hold portraits of Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement near the border with Israel in the southern Lebanese village of Adaisseh, on May 25, 2021. (Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP)

Nasrallah, 60, looked pale and spoke slowly during the 100-minute speech, coughing several times.

His appearance sparked speculation about his health on social media, but there was no immediate word on his condition.

He described the intense rocket fire at Israel from the Hamas terror group and others in Gaza as a “great victory,” despite Israel’s air superiority.

Hezbollah’s shadow loomed large during Israel and Hamas’ 11-day battle in Gaza, with the possibility it could unleash its arsenal of missiles — far more powerful than Hamas’s — in support of the Palestinians. But the Iran-backed group remained on the sidelines. While a handful of rockets were shot at Israel from Lebanon, most failed to reach Israel. Hezbollah did not claim the attacks.

Daily protests, including by members of Hezbollah and Palestinians in Lebanon, took place along the frontier with Israel in solidarity with Gaza. One Hezbollah member was killed when Israel opened fire to push back against protesters who tried to break through the volatile frontier.

In this May 15, 2021, file photo, Lebanese wave Hezbollah and Palestinian flags, as they stand in front of the Israeli town of Metula, background, on the Lebanese side of the Lebanese-Israeli border in the southern village of Kfar Kila, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

The war was triggered by weeks of clashes in Jerusalem between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in and around the Temple Mount compound, a site revered by Jews and Muslims.

Nasrallah was speaking on the 21st anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon after a protracted war, characterized by roadside bombs and sniper attacks.

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