Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday warned that any Israeli attack on Lebanon “will definitely and certainly be responded to.”
In a speech on Lebanese TV, the terror leader said Israel, despite “possessing a large army, advanced air force and nuclear weapons, cannot handle the number of missiles possessed by Hezbollah.”
He also said his group will not be compelled by threats or sanctions to give up its missile capabilities, urging his government to contend with the diplomatic pressure it faces.
The Hezbollah leader’s comments came amid reports that Israel has warned the Lebanese government that if it does not act against the terror group’s rocket factories in the country, Israel could take military action.
The missile sites were first revealed by Netanyahu during his September 27 speech at the United Nations General Assembly. The factories, which are meant to convert regular missiles into more accurate precision ones, are not believed to be up and running. The Israel Defense Forces said they are currently being constructed with Iranian assistance.
Nasrallah spoke to supporters in Beirut’s southern district via video link on “Martyrs’ Day,” commemorating the group’s fighters in combat.
“Today, on martyr’s day, I want to reaffirm that we are holding on to the strength of Lebanon, which lies in the golden equation: the army, the people and the resistance. We are holding on to the weapons of the resistance and we are holding on to all the rockets of the resistance,” Nasrallah said.
Neither sanctions nor threats would change this, he said.
“If we have to sell our homes to protect these rocket capabilities in the hands of the resistance, we will do that,” Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah asked his government “to put up with this level of diplomatic pressure because giving in, if we assume it happens, means that Lebanon will be open to an Israeli aggression any time, any moment.”
Nasrallah said the large missile arsenal held by his group was the main deterrent preventing Israeli attacks. He also stressed his organization was key to maintaining this deterrent.
“The Lebanese army cannot hold missile capabilities. It is prevented from doing so by the US and other countries. It cannot hold capabilities that will allow it to create an equation of deterrence against the enemy. That is why Hezbollah’s missiles are significant.”
In Saturday’s speech Nasrallah added that on the Syrian front, “Had it not been for Syria’s Army and the country’s leadership, we would have witnessed [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu in Damascus.”
In comments last month Nasrallah dismissed as a “farce” Netanyahu’s UN speech in which he accused the group of secretly constructing underground missile production facilities near Beirut’s international airport.
“Netanyahu’s psychological warfare over the missiles was a farce,” Nasrallah said on October 12.
Channel 10 news reported last week that Israel’s threat was conveyed to Beirut by Israel’s deputy national security adviser Eitan Ben-David via Paris. Ben-David gave it to Orléan la-Chevalier, a top adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, during the latter’s visit in Jerusalem in late October.
Nasrallah also spoke out harshly against the apparent warming of relations between Israel and Gulf states, saying, “We condemn any form of normalization with Israel.
“The current normalization puts an end to the ِArab hypocrisy and brings down the masks of the deceitful and hypocrites,” he said. But he described this as a positive step: “Finally it is clear who stands on which side — a necessary condition for victory.”
Israel and Saudi Arabia have no official relations and the kingdom does not recognize the Jewish state. Still, Israel has hinted at clandestine ties with Saudi Arabia in recent years, stressing the two countries share an interest in countering Iran.
Netanyahu and Intelligence and Transportation Minister Israel Katz both recently visited Oman, while Israel’s culture and communications ministers were in the United Arab Emirates last month. And Israel and Qatar have reportedly been in close contact recently as the latter has taken a central part in attempts to broker a calm in the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that he can see a path to peace with Palestinians through the “normalization” of relations with Arab states, which, like Israel, oppose Iran.