'They talk about a civil war,' terror chief says of Israel

Gleefully picking up on Herzog warning, Nasrallah says Israel tearing itself apart

Hezbollah leader claims Netanyahu’s ‘senseless’ government stoking domestic strife with legal proposals in addition to inflaming conflict with the Palestinians

Hezbollah supporters attend a televised speech by the Lebanese terror group's leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut's southern suburbs, on February 16, 2023. (Anwar Amro/AFP)
Hezbollah supporters attend a televised speech by the Lebanese terror group's leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut's southern suburbs, on February 16, 2023. (Anwar Amro/AFP)

The head of the Hezbollah terror group, Hassan Nasrallah, on Thursday celebrated the internal strife in Israel touched off by the government’s plans to radically overhaul the judicial system.

Nasrallah quoted President Isaac Herzog, who warned on Sunday that Israel risked being torn apart if the government and opposition fail to engage in dialogue to reach a compromise.

The Lebanese terror chief also highlighted former prime ministers who have come out against the coalition’s plans, including Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett, Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak.

“For the first time since the creation of [Israel], we hear speeches from the entity’s president and former prime ministers Lapid, Bennett, Olmert and  Barak along with former defense ministers and generals who talk about civil war and bloodshed and say that there is no solution to the challenges posed by the new government,” Nasrallah claimed in a televised address broadcast from a bunker in Lebanon.

The proposals to significantly restrict the power of the High Court of Justice have sparked significant backlash including mass protests against the measures. At least 70,000 demonstrated outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on Monday as lawmakers advanced the first legislative proposals of the government’s package.

Several opposition lawmakers, former politicians and activists have warned that the overhaul could lead to a civil conflict, but both sides have spoken out against violence.

Olmert said at the protest on Monday “we’re facing a real war,” prompting a police complaint for incitement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Herzog has appealed to the sides to hold a dialogue and accept his compromise proposal in order to prevent further conflict. Both the coalition and the opposition say they are ready to hold negotiations, but the opposition insists that the judicial legislation be put on hold first.

Quoting Herzog’s primetime address, Nasrallah said, “we all worry about the fate of Israel. The lack of dialogue is tearing us apart from the inside.”

The Hezbollah chief pointed to the extreme rhetoric thought leaders in Israel have used to discuss the government’s plans.

“In what terms do they speak? They talk about a civil war coming. They talk about the fact that there is no solution to the new challenges posed by the Netanyahu government except through bloodshed. A former air force commander threatened to kill Netanyahu,” Nasrallah said.

(R to L) Naim Qassem, the deputy chief of Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, Lebanese Shiite cleric and senior Hezbollah official Hashim Safi al-Din and Grand Jaafari Mufti Ahmad Qabalan, attend a televised speech Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut’s southern suburbs, on February 16, 2023. (Anwar Amro/AFP)

He appeared to be referring to Zeev Raz, a celebrated former combat pilot and prominent anti-Netanyahu protester who in a recent Facebook post appeared to justify the potential assassination of Netanyahu. Raz later deleted the post and apologized.

Nasrallah claimed that the government’s efforts have led to Israelis leaving the country “to go back to the countries they are from.” A handful of prominent businesses have pulled funds from Israel due to the legal proposals but there has not been a movement of Israelis announcing that they are leaving the country.

Nasrallah said that Netanyahu’s “senseless” government is pushing two “major conflicts” simultaneously — the first being the internal one centered on the judicial overhaul plans, and the second the conflict with the Palestinians, which he said “will spread throughout the region.”

The Hezbollah chief said Israel poses the greatest threat to the region but that, “God willing, it will not reach its 80th birthday.” Israel will be marking its 75th anniversary in May.

Also in the speech, Nasrallah threatened to prevent Israel from drilling in the Karish gas field if there is “any procrastination” in international oil companies’ extraction of gas from Lebanese waters on behalf of Beirut.

While they don’t have formal diplomatic relations, Israel and Lebanon signed a maritime deal last October that will allow for the extraction of offshore fuel reserves.

The agreement, which Lebanon hopes can help lift it out of its crippling economic crisis, is intended to end a long-running dispute over some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea, covering Israel’s Karish and Lebanon’s Qana gas fields.

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