In a televised address, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah says that the terror group does not seek escalation with Israel, but will respond in kind to any Israeli air strikes in south Lebanon.
“We wanted to tell our Israeli enemy that any airstrike against Lebanon will absolutely be met with a response — but in an appropriate, proportional way,” Nasrallah says.
Nasrallah delivers his remarks during a speech celebrating Hezbollah’s self-described “victory” in the 2006 war against Israel. The address was scheduled before tensions escalated between Israel and the terror group along the Lebanese border.
Israel struck targets in south Lebanon late Wednesday in response to rocket fire by Palestinian terror groups in the area, according to the Israeli military. The next day, Hezbollah fired missiles towards open areas in northern Israel.
For now, Nasrallah says, Hezbollah’s response has been confined to open military zones in Har Dov, which Lebanese see as occupied territory.
“This is a message that is clear as day: you bombed open areas, so we bombed open areas,” Nasrallah says. “This maintains the existing rules of engagement.”
Nasrallah adds, however, that if Israel continues to conduct airstrikes in Lebanon, Hezbollah may broaden its range of fire.
“Our response could be in the Galilee, or parts of the Lebanese Golan that Israel has occupied. But this will all be considered in due time,” Nasrallah says.
Lebanon has been undergoing a spiraling economic and political crisis in recent months, with some observers warning the ever-fragile state could totally collapse. Nasrallah says, however, that Hezbollah will not allow the domestic political situation to affect its ability to fight Israel.
“We always say — we do not want war. But we are not afraid of it, we are ready for it, and we wait for it each day. And we shall win it, with God’s help, as it is His promise and that of his prophet,” Nasrallah says.