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Dubai: The leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah has warned wider regional war could erupt if Israeli strikes on Gaza do not end, warning that “all options are open” on Lebanon’s southern border.
In a fiery hour-long address broadcast to supporters from a secret location, Hassan Nasrallah said Hezbollah’s role in the fighting so far was minor, vowing that its targeting of Israeli positions with mortars, rockets and anti-tank missiles “will not be the end.”
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah greets his supporters via a video link, during a rally in Beirut, Lebanon.Credit: AP
“To the enemy we say, if you think to assault Lebanon or take a preemptive strike against Lebanon it will be the biggest act of foolishness in the history of your existence,” he said.
The widely anticipated address from the leader of the designated terrorist group overlapped with a press conference by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv, in which Blinken urged US determination against a second or third front opening in the conflict.
Nasrallah accused the US of being entirely responsible for the war in Gaza, calling Israel its executive tool and “servant,” vowing Hezbollah was prepared to face off US warships in the Mediterranean: “I assure you all options are open on the southern front.”
He also called on Arab states to cut off oil and gas and food supplies from Israel, insisting top officials from Muslim states should have “the dignity” to travel to the borderline of Gaza to address the world.
“If an all out war is broken, your [American] fleet will be of no good. Your aerial warplanes will be pointless. You will pay a heavy price”
“You, the Americans, are capable of ending the aggression on Gaza because it is you that started [it]. If you wish to steer away from regional war you must hurriedly act towards ending aggression on Gaza,” Nasrallah said.
“Whoever wants to prevent a regional war, and I am talking to the Americans, must quickly halt the aggression on Gaza … If an all out war is broken, your fleet will be of no good. Your aerial warplanes will be pointless. You will pay a heavy price.”
Tensions along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon escalated on Friday ahead of the planned speech by Nasrallah.
It was Nasrallah’s first public speech since Hamas terrorists brutally invaded Israel on October 7, an attack he said was a “100 per cent Palestinian” operation that showed resistance factions were not beholden to Iran.
Hezbollah is a Lebanese Shiite Muslim militant group that emerged in the early 1980s during the 15-year Lebanese civil war. It calls for the destruction of the Israeli state and pledges allegiance to Iran’s supreme leader.
It is considered the jewel in the crown of Iran’s so-called “Axis of Resistance,” which refers to an alliance of proxy forces in the region, including Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups.
Blinken directly addressed the terrorist group in remarks on Friday, when asked if the US would be willing to use its firepower to ward off escalating conflict in the region.
“With regard to Lebanon, with regard to Hezbollah, with regard to Iran – we have been very clear from the outset that we are determined that there not be a second or third front opened in this conflict,” Blinken said following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday afternoon (local time).
Blinken also reiterated Washington’s call for a humanitarian pause and greater aid for civilians.
Hamas-run health authorities in Gaza say at least 9227 people have been killed since Israel started its bombardment on the war-ravaged enclave.
While Israel has been pummelling Gaza, its forces have also faced almost daily fire across the Lebanon border with Hezbollah, which Nasrallah praised for forcing Israel to keep forces near the Lebanon border instead of Gaza or the occupied West Bank.
“Some claim that we are about to engage in the war. I’m telling you, we have been engaged in this battle since October 8.
“Some might look at the border and say what we have done is minor. But if you look at it objectively, you’ll see this is significant. But I assure you, it will not be the end.”
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More coverage of the Hamas-Israel conflict
- Cascading violence: Tremors from the Hamas attacks and Israel’s response have reached far beyond the border. But what would all-out war in the Middle East look like?
- The human cost: Hamas’ massacre in Israel has traumatised – and hardened – survivors. And in Gaza, neighbourhoods have become ghost cities.
- “Hamas metro”: Inside the labyrinthine network of underground tunnels, which the Palestinian militant group has commanded beneath war-ravaged Gaza for 16 years. The covert corridors have long provided essential channels for the movement of weapons and armed combatants.
- What is Hezbollah?: As fears of the conflict expanding beyond Israel and Hamas steadily rise, all eyes are on the militant group and political party that controls southern Lebanon and has been designated internationally as a terrorist group. How did it form and what does Iran have to do with it?
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