Nasrallah says open war with Israel possible, threatens US fleet in Mediterranean
Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Friday warned Israel against attacking Lebanon, saying "all options" are on the table and that the chance of open conflict is "realistic."
"All options are open on our Lebanese front," Nasrallah said, in a highly-anticipated televised speech commemorating the Hezbollah fighters who have been killed in clashes on the Lebanese-Israeli border since October 8.
"We say to the enemy that might think of attacking Lebanon or carrying out a pre-emptive operation, that this would be the greatest foolishness of its existence," he added.
Hezbollah is prepared for all options, Nasrallah warned, “and we can resort to them at any time.” The fighting on the Lebanon-Israel border would “not be limited” to the scale seen until now, he added.
“Some say I’m going to announce that we have entered the battle," Nasrallah said. "We already entered the battle on Oct. 8,” he added, noting that Hezbollah's cross-border strikes have pulled away Israeli forces that would otherwise be focused on Hamas in Gaza.
“I warn the Zionist enemy against pressing on with the attacks that target civilians, and this will return us to the ‘civilian for civilian’ rule,” he warned.
“The development of things on the southern front is linked to the course and development of the events in Gaza and the Zionist enemy's behavior towards Lebanon,” Nasrallah pointed out.
Noting that “what's happening on our Lebanese front did not even happen during the (2006) July War,” Nasrallah added that “what is happening on our front is important and very influential.”
“But anyhow we will not settle for it,” Nasrallah added, signaling that Hezbollah might escalate its attacks in the coming days.
“Some might find what is happening on our front to be moderate, but if you look at it objectively, you will find it to be important and very big,” he said.
Nasrallah also told the United States that his Iran-backed group is ready to face its warships and that the way to prevent a regional war is to halt the attacks in Gaza.
"Your fleet in the Mediterranean does not scare us... We are ready to face the fleet you threaten us with," Nasrallah said, addressing the United States. "Whoever wants to prevent a regional war must quickly stop the aggression on Gaza," he added.
Nasrallah also criticized the strong U.S. backing of Israel in its bombardment of Gaza that has killed more than 9,000 people, mostly civilians. While U.S. officials in recent days have pushed more publicly for protecting civilians in Gaza, they have yet to call for a cease-fire.
The Hezbollah leader said U.S. President Joe Biden had made a “fake argument that Hamas cut off children’s heads (without) evidence, but stayed silent for the thousands of children in Gaza who were decapitated and their limbs were torn apart” by Israeli bombing.
“You Americans can stop the aggression against Gaza because it is your aggression,” he added.
As for Hamas' unprecdented and massive operation against Israel on October 7, Nasrallah stressed that “the decision of this great and blessed battle was 100% Palestinian and those who did it concealed it from the other Palestinian factions and the forces in the region.”
“This is a purely Palestinian battle and it is not related to any regional or international file,” he said.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran publicly supports resistance movements in Lebanon and Palestine, but it does not practice any hegemony on them,” he pointed out.
Nasrallah added: “Our shouldering of the responsibility, resilience and patience will achieve certain victory. Gaza will triumph, Palestine will triumph and we will soon meet to celebrate that.”
Nasrallah’s speech had been widely anticipated throughout the region as a sign of whether the Israel-Hamas conflict would spiral into a regional war, following weeks of limited exchanges between the Lebanese group and Israeli forces on the Lebanon-Israel border.
Nasrallah's address comes a day after the most significant escalation in clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces on the Israel-Lebanon border since the war started -- and on the same day as a visit to Israel by the top U.S. diplomat.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to urge protections for civilians in the fighting with Hamas, as Israeli troops tightened their encirclement of Gaza City.
Hamas leaders have been pushing — sometimes publicly — for Hezbollah to widen its involvement in the war. Nasrallah met last week in Beirut with senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri and with Ziad Nakhaleh of the allied group Islamic Jihad.
However, Hezbollah officials have avoided publicly setting a specific red line, saying vaguely that they would join the war if they see that Hamas is on the verge of defeat. So far, Hezbollah has taken calculated steps to keep Israel’s military busy on its border with Lebanon, but not to the extent of igniting an all-out war.
The Israeli military said seven of their soldiers and one civilian had been killed on the northern border as of Friday. More than 50 Hezbollah fighters and 10 militants with allied groups, as well as 10 civilians, including a Reuters journalist, have been killed on the Lebanese side of the border.
Israel considers the Iran-backed group its most serious immediate threat, estimating that Hezbollah has around 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel, as well as drones and surface-to-air and surface-to-sea missiles.
But a full-on conflict would also be costly for Hezbollah, which fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006 that ended with a draw — but not before Israeli bombing reduced swaths of southern Lebanon, the eastern Bekaa Valley and Beirut’s southern suburbs to rubble.
A new all-out war would also displace hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah’s supporters and cause wide damage at a time when Lebanon is in the throes of a historic four-year economic meltdown.
03 November 2023, 16:46
Nasrallah: I warn the Zionist enemy against pressing on with the attacks that target civilians, and this will return us to the "civilian for civilian" rule.
03 November 2023, 16:43
Nasrallah: The development of things on the northern front is linked to the course and development of the events in Gaza and the Zionist enemy's behavior towards Lebanon.
03 November 2023, 16:36
Nasrallah: Our shouldering of the responsibility, resilience and patience will achieve certain victory. Gaza will triumph, Palestine will triumph and we will soon meet to celebrate that.
03 November 2023, 16:25
Nasrallah: You Americans can stop the aggression against Gaza because it is your aggression.
03 November 2023, 16:24
Nasrallah to Americans: Your fleets will not scare us and have never scared us, and we have also prepared what is needed to confront them.
03 November 2023, 16:23
Nasrallah: I tell the Americans that their threats against us and against the resistance movements are futile.
03 November 2023, 16:20
Nasrallah: All the options on our Lebanese front are open and we might go to any choice at any time.
03 November 2023, 16:16
Nasrallah: The resistance's operations in the South tell the enemy that if it carries out an aggression or thinks of waging a preemptive operation, it will be committing the biggest foolishness in its history.
03 November 2023, 16:14
Nasrallah: The operations on the border created a state of concern, anticipation, panic and fear for the enemy's political and military leadership, who fear that this front might go to further escalation or a broad war, and this is a realistic and possible scenario that the enemy should take into consideration.
03 November 2023, 16:07
Nasrallah: What's happening on our Lebanese front did not even happen during the July War.
03 November 2023, 16:04
Nasrallah: What is happening on our front is important and very influential, but anyhow we will not settle for it.
03 November 2023, 16:02
Nasrallah: Some might find what is happening on our front to be moderate, but if you look at it objectively, you will find it to be important and very big.
03 November 2023, 15:59
Nasrallah: What is happening on our front is very important and influential.
03 November 2023, 15:59
Nasrallah: We have already joined the battle since October 8.
03 November 2023, 15:53
Nasrallah: The Israeli enemy is threatening Lebanon and the Lebanese with the blood of the children in Gaza.
03 November 2023, 15:53
Nasrallah: Gaza's triumph today is also an Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian and Lebanese interest.
03 November 2023, 15:52
Nasrallah: Gaza's triumph means the triumph of Palestine and the states and peoples of the region, especially the neighboring countries.
03 November 2023, 15:51
Nasrallah: The first objective should be to halt the aggression against Gaza.
03 November 2023, 15:50
Nasrallah: What's happening in Gaza does not resemble the rest of the wars. This a decisive and historic battle and this obliges everyone to shoulder responsibility.
03 November 2023, 15:48
Nasrallah: The U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria are coming under the resistance's attacks and this is a wise and brave decision.
03 November 2023, 15:45
Nasrallah: America, the Great Satan, is responsible for all the massacres and the current and previous centuries.
03 November 2023, 15:45
Nasrallah: America is fully responsible for the ongoing war in Gaza and Israel is only an executive tool.
03 November 2023, 15:44
Nasrallah: We tell the enemy that the battle's end will be Gaza's victory.
03 November 2023, 15:40
Nasrallah: The Israeli army is avoiding a major ground operation in Gaza because it is weak and impotent.
03 November 2023, 15:39
Nasrallah: For an entire month, Israel has not been able to make a single military achievement.
03 November 2023, 15:35
Nasrallah: Israel is repeating the mistake of setting unachievable goals.
03 November 2023, 15:34
Nasrallah: A lot of the Israelis killed in Gaza's envelope were killed by the Israeli army's fire.
03 November 2023, 15:32
Nasrallah: The Oct. 7 operation paved the way for a new era in the region.
03 November 2023, 15:28
Nasrallah: This U.S. rush to support and assist Israel has exposed this entity's weakness and failure.
03 November 2023, 15:28
Nasrallah: The Israelis now believe more than me that Israel is weaker than a spider's web.
03 November 2023, 15:27
Nasrallah: Al-Aqsa Flood exposed the weakness of Israel.
03 November 2023, 15:26
Nasrallah: Whatever the enemy's government does, it will not be able to change the strategic and historic results of Al-Aqsa Flood.
03 November 2023, 15:25
Nasrallah: This operation caused a security, military, political and psychological earthquake in Israel.
03 November 2023, 15:24
Nasrallah: The Islamic Republic of Iran publicly supports resistance movements in Lebanon and Palestine, but it does not practice any hegemony on them.
03 November 2023, 15:23
Nasrallah: This is a purely Palestinian battle and it is not related to any regional or international file.
03 November 2023, 15:21
Nasrallah on Hamas' Oct. 7 operation: The decision of this great and blessed battle was 100% Palestinian and those who did it concealed it from the other Palestinian factions and the forces in the region.
03 November 2023, 15:15
Nasrallah: We salute the Iraqi and Yemeni arms that have joined this blessed battle.
03 November 2023, 15:05
Nasrallah: This is the celebration of our pride in the martyrs.