Hezbollah number two says terror group prepared for ‘foolish’ Israeli action

Naim Qassem says Iran-backed militia not expecting war but is ‘ready to confront aggression if it happens’

File: Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem speaks in the Ghobeiry neighborhood of southern Beirut on May 13, 2016. (AFP Photo/Stringer)
File: Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem speaks in the Ghobeiry neighborhood of southern Beirut on May 13, 2016. (AFP Photo/Stringer)

The second in command of Hezbollah said in an interview that he does not expect Israel to attack in the near future, but that his terror group is ready to “confront aggression if it happens.”

Speaking to Reuters news agency, Sheikh Naim Qassem said his Iran-backed terror group was prepared for war, but did not think Israel would launch an attack in the near future.

Hezbollah “is ready to confront the aggression if it happens, if Israel decides to carry out any foolish action”, he told Reuters. “But it does not appear that the circumstances are for an Israeli decision for war.”

Nevertheless Hezbollah would always be ready for Israeli “aggression” he said.

“We have declared repeatedly and frequently that we, as the resistance, work to have permanent readiness and we are ready to confront the Israeli aggression if it happens, and therefore we are ready to defend ourselves by all available means,” he told the news agency.

Qassem refused to give details of Hezbollah’s military capabilities.

“We don’t talk about the military details, be it our capabilities or those of our allies, or our deployments, because they are secrets that we retain and we don’t want to give a free gift to our enemy,” he said.

But he stressed that, “We are working to fortify our front, and to be ready.”

Fighters of the Shiite Hezbollah terror group attend the March 18, 2017 funeral in the southern Lebanese town of Kfar Hatta of a comrade who died in combat in Syria. (AFP Photo/ Mahmoud Zayyat)

Qassem also said during the interview that Hezbollah was prepared to keep its forces in Syria for as long as necessary.

The interview took place as Israel concluded two nationwide emergency preparedness exercises, which tested both the General Staff’s ability to manage a war, and the Home Front Command’s ability to protect the country’s civilian population.

According to member of the IDF General Staff, the exercise focused on the Iran-led axis, which includes the Hezbollah, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s forces, Shiite militias, and Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.

This included seeing how “Iran will use its positions in Syria,” the officer said.

In January IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot warned that Hezbollah was beefing up its military capabilities.

“The Hezbollah terror group is breaking the UN Security Council resolutions, it maintains a military presence in the area, is holding military systems, and is improving its military capabilities,” Eisenkot said. “The IDF is working day and night against these threats to ensure readiness and deterrence.”

The Iranian proxy has held on to its weapons and made efforts to obtain advanced weaponry, a development Israel has vowed to prevent. Dozens of airstrikes on weapons convoys bound for Lebanon have been attributed to Israel by foreign media reports. It has also deployed units south of the Litani River.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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