The leader of Lebanon’s pro-Iranian Shiite movement Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has warned the United States that if Israel does not stop its attack on Gaza, the fighting on the Lebanese front could turn into a wider regional war.
In his first speech since Israel declared war on Hamas, after the action carried out by the Islamist group in power in the Gaza Strip which caused over 1,400 deaths in Israeli territory last October 7, Nasrallah did not, however, announce explicit plans to widen the conflict of his Lebanese terrorist group with Israel.
With a heavily armed militia supported by Iran, Hezbollah has engaged Israeli forces in recent weeks along the border between Lebanon and Israel – where the United Nations Unifil mission is present – in the deadliest escalation since it fought a war with Israel in 2006.
“We are ready for all possibilities,” the Hezbollah leader said, blaming the United States for its support for Israel in the war on Gaza and for the high number of civilian casualties.
“You Americans can stop the aggression against Gaza because it is your aggression. Anyone who wants to prevent a regional war, and I appeal to the Americans, must quickly stop the aggression in Gaza,” Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah added that Hezbollah does not fear the US naval firepower that Washington has amassed in the region since the crisis erupted.
“Some say Hezbollah is about to join the fray. I tell you: we have been engaged in this battle since October 8,” the Hezbollah leader said.
“Some would like Hezbollah to engage in all-out war, but I can tell you: What is happening now along the Israeli-Lebanese border is significant, and it is not the end.”
Nasrallah warned Israel against launching a pre-emptive offensive: “I tell the Israelis that if you are thinking of carrying out a pre-emptive strike against Lebanon, it will be the stupidest mistake you will make in your entire existence.”
However, in his long-awaited speech Nasrallah somewhat reduced Hezbollah’s involvement in the operation launched by Hamas, stating that he had no advance knowledge of the October 7 plans, and that the Iranians were not aware of them either, stressing that the group was not an integral part of the attack.
Nasrallah’s remarks coincided with a visit to Israel by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said the US had been clear that there should be no second or third front in the conflict.
Blinken spoke to reporters in Tel Aviv after meetings with Israeli leaders, adding that Washington is committed to deterring aggression by any side.
He also called on Israel to take measures to protect civilians in Gaza as its forces continue to shell the Palestinian enclave and the death toll among residents soars.
The Israeli army said its troops were fighting Hamas militants in close combat in ruined streets after they surrounded Gaza City in a bid to wipe out the Islamist group that controls the small, densely populated territory.
The post first appeared on euractiv.it