Clip shows him at mother's bedside, on rare departure from bunker

In eulogy for his mother, Nasrallah says Rafah deaths will ‘hasten Israel’s demise’

Hezbollah leader compares Jewish state to Nazis during address to mourners; lambastes Arab nations that have normalized ties with Israel

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during a televised speech at the end of the mourning period after the death of his mother, Beirut, May 28, 2024 (Screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law )
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during a televised speech at the end of the mourning period after the death of his mother, Beirut, May 28, 2024 (Screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law )

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech via video on Tuesday at the end of the Islamic three-day mourning period for his mother, who passed away after a serious illness in a Beirut hospital on Saturday.

The terror leader thanked all those who attended the mourning ceremonies, and apologized for not participating in person, due to his living in hiding since 2006 for fear of being assassinated by Israel.

“You all understand my situation, and I wish I could be in the first row to share your condolences,” he said.

For a brief moment, the Hezbollah leader welled up as he eulogized his deceased mother, Mahdiyya Safi al-Din.

He described her as a “devout, pure and gentle woman,” for whom family was her “top priority,” and who “never complained about clothing, housing, or food, and she spent most of her life in a single room.”

The Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar news outlet released a short video showing Nasrallah — having briefly left the bunker where he routinely lives to avoid a potential Israeli strike — at his mother’s bedside in a hospital at an unspecified date before her passing.

The terror leader thanked those who offered condolences from the Lebanese diaspora, as well as those from a long list of Muslim countries. He further expressed his gratitude to the leadership of Hezbollah and its sister Shiite movement Amal for standing for hours in the mourning tent to accept condolences next to his father.

In his speech, the Hezbollah leader did not abstain from attacking Israel. Referencing the IDF airstrike carried out on Sunday night in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, Nasrallah said that “the bloodshed in Rafah will hasten the defeat and demise of this Nazi-like and brutal entity for which we see no future in our region.”

The strike targeted two senior Hamas operatives in western Rafah, but sparked a fire in an adjacent area where a group of tent shelters for displaced Palestinians were located. Forty-five people were killed, mainly young women and children who were burned alive, according to Hamas health authorities, who said dozens more were injured.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident a “tragic mishap.” The IDF said Tuesday that a hidden store of terror group weapons may have been the actual cause of the deadly blaze, and that the airstrike which targeted the Hamas commanders in the adjacent area had used small munitions that could not ignite such a fire.

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike adjacent to a camp area housing internally displaced people in Rafah on May 27, 2024. the Israeli army said it had targeted 2 top Hamas terrorists. (Eyad BABA / AFP)

Employing antisemitic undertones, Nasrallah added that “[Israel’s] actions mirror those of historical killers of prophets, as they mercilessly bomb tents and mutilate the bodies of children.” “Killers of prophets” is a common antisemitic trope found in radical Islamic discourse.

Nasrallah lambasted those Arab and Muslim countries that seek to normalize relations with Israel. “With whom do you seek to normalize? With these treacherous monsters whose crimes know no bounds?”

Referencing the decision issued by the International Court of Justice last week, which ordered Israel to halt Rafah operations that risk the destruction of Gaza’s civilian population, Nasrallah claimed that the ruling was “met with violent raids” by Israel.

Judges arrive at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to rule on South Africa’s request on a Rafah and wider Gaza war ceasefire, in The Hague, on May 24, 2024. (Nick Gammon / AFP)

In a speech he gave on Friday, one day before his mother’s passing, to commemorate Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash with members of his entourage on May 19, Nasrallah had mentioned “surprises” he had in store for Netanyahu.

According to Arab media sources, the “surprises” referred to weaponry that Hezbollah has not yet deployed and might use if Netanyahu escalates the war. The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida quoted sources close to Hezbollah claiming that the terror group is in possession of long-range precision missiles and Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles with Iranian modifications.

As for its current strategy, Hezbollah is said to be increasing military pressure on Israel in the hope that it will lead to domestic pressure on the government and force Netanyahu to enter negotiations for a truce. Hezbollah is also said to be preparing to continue the war until the US elections and possibly until next spring.

Al-Jarida added that all possible scenarios were discussed in Tehran last week on the sidelines of Raisi’s funeral by leaders of Iran-backed terror groups Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Hezbollah’s deputy leader Naim Qassem attend the funeral of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, in Tehran, on May 22, 2024. (Screen grab)

Quoting “sources” close to Hamas and Hezbollah, the newspaper wrote that it was decided that Hamas would be strict in its negotiating position, would not make concessions to Israel and would not release the hostages until Jerusalem stops the war and withdraws its troops from the Gaza Strip.

The two terror groups reportedly believe that Washington will increase its pressure on Israel to end the war as the US presidential elections approach.

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