Hezbollah chief denies rumors of poor health, slams ‘crazy’ new Israeli government

Nasrallah says a simple ‘trachea allergy’ cause recent cancellation of planned speech; lambastes Netanyahu coalition as full of ‘corrupt criminals and extremists’

Supporters of Hezbollah attend a televised speech by the group's leader Hassan Nasrallah in the Lebanese capital Beirut on January 3, 2023. (Anwar Amro/AFP)
Supporters of Hezbollah attend a televised speech by the group's leader Hassan Nasrallah in the Lebanese capital Beirut on January 3, 2023. (Anwar Amro/AFP)

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah terror group, gave a televised speech Tuesday, shutting down rumors about his poor health and lashing out at “crazy officials” in Israel’s new “government of corrupt criminals and extremists.”

“I would like to reassure you that there is no need to worry at all,” Nasrallah said in an address to mark the third anniversary of the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US air strike in Iraq. He also spoke out against Israel’s new government, though expressed hopes it would lead to the Jewish state’s demise.

Nasrallah, 62, dismissed rumors mentioned in some Israeli and international news outlets that he had had a stroke or was near death, after a speech planned for Friday was called off. Nasrallah, who coughed and had a hoarse voice throughout his address, explained that he has had a “trachea allergy” for the past 30 years.

“After what was said in the Israeli and Gulf media, I would like to reassure you that there is no need to worry at all,” he said.

“I apologize for making you worry,” he told supporters. Lebanese media affiliated with Hezbollah had reported that Nasrallah was suffering from the flu, preventing him from speaking normally and this was the reason for the canceled speech.

The Hezbollah chief also addressed the new Israeli government, as well as the controversial visit to the Temple Mount Tuesday morning by the far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.

Any “harm against al-Aqsa might blow up the entire region,” Nasrallah warned, issuing a message to the international community to “rein in those crazy officials in Israel” in order to prevent war.

“The new Israeli government is a government of [people who are] corrupt, criminals and extremists,” Nasrallah said, according to a translation by the Lebanese Naharnet news site.

He joked darkly that the only reason to be optimistic about the new government was because it might hasten Israel’s demise.

“We will not tolerate any change” in the fragile balance of power between Israel and Lebanon, he said. “We tried Netanyahu for a long time and we do not fear him.”

Soleimani, who as commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps IRGC was the architect of Iran’s regional military activities, was killed in a US drone strike in neighboring Iraq. He is hailed as a national icon among supporters of Iran’s theocracy.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday vowed revenge for his killing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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