The leader of pro-Iranian Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, estimated that Friday that the war between Israel and Hamas could turn into a regional conflict if it does not stop, placing full responsibility on the United States. of the situation.
In his first speech since the outbreak of Hamas's war against Israel on October 7, Hassan Nasrallah further warned that “all options” were open for a widening of the conflict on the Lebanese front with Israel .
The televised speech by the leader of the powerful formation, broadcast to tens of thousands of his supporters in the southern suburbs of Beirut and other Lebanese regions, was eagerly awaited to find out if he was going to drag Lebanon straight into the conflict.
Hailing Hamas' “heroic” battle in Gaza, Hassan Nasrallah accused the United States, whose head of diplomacy Antony Blinken visited Israel on Friday, of being “entirely responsible for the ongoing war in Gaza.”
He said they must “quickly stop the aggression in Gaza” if they want to “prevent a regional war.”
Supporters of Hezbollah gathered to watch a televised speech by its leader Hassan Nasrallah in the southern suburbs of Beirut, November 3, 2023 in Lebanon © AFP – Ahmad Al-Rubaye
Since the day after October 7, Hezbollah has been engaged in daily, but limited, exchanges of fire on the border with Israel, in solidarity with its Palestinian ally, Hamas.
The violence has already caused 72 dead in Lebanon, including 54 Hezbollah fighters, according to an AFP count, and at least six soldiers and one civilian on the Israeli side, according to the authorities.
– “Golden mean” –
Since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, triggered on October 7 by the unprecedented attack of the Palestinian Islamist movement on Israeli soil, more than 1,400 people have been killed, according to the Israeli authorities, the majority of them civilians on the day. of the Hamas attack and more than 240 people were taken hostage.
Hezbollah supporters gathered to watch a televised speech by its leader Hassan Nasrallah in the southern suburbs of Beirut, November 3, 2023 in Lebanon © AFP – Ahmad Al-Rubaye
In retaliation, Israel declared a war for “annihilate” Hamas, relentlessly shelling the Gaza Strip where 9,227 people, including 3,826 children, were killed, according to a latest report from Hamas on Friday.
The leader of Hezbollah insisted that Hamas had taken the decision alone to start the war against Israel, and had not informed Hezbollah or Iran.
But he indicated that his movement had opened the Lebanese front “to support Gaza” and that it was “mobilizing a third of the Israeli army.”
Weighing his words, he estimated that “the possibility whether this front experiences additional escalation or total war (…) is realistic, and can happen, and the enemy must prepare for it.”
He estimated that “all options” were on the table, warning Israel that an attack on Lebanon “would be the biggest stupidity of its existence.”
The Hezbollah leader stressed that Iran's allies had also mobilized across the region to support Hamas, hailing Iraqi and Yemeni formations “entering this blessed battle” by claiming fire on Israel.
Hezbollah supporters gathered to watch a televised speech by its leader Hassan Nasrallah in the southern suburbs of Beirut, November 3, 2023 in Lebanon © AFP – AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
“It was an eloquent speech that sent a clear message (…): resistance is present on the ground on all fronts,” Alaa Hachem, an urban planner at the University of Baghdad, told AFP, who followed the speech on a giant screen in the center of the Iraqi capital, alongside hundreds of supporters of pro-Iranian groups.
For analyst Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center based in Beirut, the leader of Hezbollah was able to “find a happy medium”.
He was caught between those who criticize his training for “not having entered the conflict with all its capabilities” and the desire of Hezbollah, as well as that of Iran, “to avoid a regional conflict”, she explains.
– “Unimaginable” –
Washington responded by warning Hezbollah that it should not “seek to profit” from the war between Israel and Hamas.
“The United States does not want the conflict to spread to Lebanon “The devastation that would ensue for Lebanon and its people would be unimaginable, and can be avoided,” said the White House National Security Council spokesperson.
Supporters of Hezbollah watch a televised speech by its leader Hassan Nasrallah in the southern suburbs of Beirut, on November 3, 2023 in Lebanon © AFP – Ahmad Al-Rubaye
A destructive war has already been fought in 2006 Hezbollah to Israel. It devastated infrastructure and left more than 1,200 dead on the Lebanese side, the majority of them civilians. On the Israeli side, 160 people were killed, mainly soldiers.
Hezbollah has since strengthened its significant military arsenal, which notably includes high-precision missiles, but has for the moment refrained from using them.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hezbollah after these threats in a televised speech.
“I repeat to our enemies, make no mistake about us. Such a mistake would be very costly, you would pay an unimaginable price “, he insisted.
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