Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah yesterday condemned Israeli attacks on Gaza, which have killed 29 people since Friday, calling on Israel “not to underestimate Lebanon” like the state underestimates Gaza. However, the Hezbollah leader refrained from mentioning any response his party would take in support of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, instead saying that he supports “the right of the Palestinian resistance” to respond to the Israeli aggression “by all means.”
The escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, where 31 Palestinians including six children have died since the start of Israeli strikes on Friday, continued Sunday with no sign of abating in this confrontation between the Islamic Jihad group and Israel. Israel said it launched a “pre-emptive strike” targeting Islamic Jihad, killing fighters and leaders of the organization, which is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and the European Union. This new confrontation is the worst between Israel and armed organizations in Gaza since May 2021, which in 11 days left 260 dead on the Palestinian side, including fighters, and 14 dead in Israel, including a soldier, according to local authorities.
A desire to stay away?
“The Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance and Islamic Jihad have the right to respond to this aggression by all means, at the time and place they deem appropriate,” Nasrallah said in a speech delivered on the ninth day of Ashura. “This decision is theirs, it is their right,” added the Hezbollah leader, in what seems to reflect a desire to distance himself from the current military confrontation. “The response of the [Palestinian] resistance must be supported morally, politically and by the media,” he said. “As Hezbollah, we are following what is happening, hour by hour. We are constantly in contact with our brothers from Islamic Jihad and Hamas, as well as the rest of the Palestinian factions,” he added.
“We have heard statements from the enemy threatening the resistance in Palestine and Lebanon while bombing Gaza, while addressing Lebanon. But he is miscalculating. When he addresses Lebanon, he underestimates us if he thinks he can scare us. … I say to the enemy: as with Gaza, do not underestimate Lebanon. Do not underestimate Lebanon,” Nasrallah continued.
A few days ago, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hossein Salami, said that “100,000 missiles are ready in Lebanon to create hell” in Israel and that Hezbollah, an affiliate of Tehran, could bring Israel “to its knees,” causing an outcry in Lebanese sovereignist circles.
Since 2007, Israel has imposed a strict blockade on Gaza, a micro-territory plagued by poverty and unemployment. In 2019, the death of an Islamic Jihad commander in an Israeli operation led to several days of deadly firefights between the armed group and Israel. Hamas, which has fought Israel in several wars since it took power in 2007, had kept its distance from the clashes.
This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour.
Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah yesterday condemned Israeli attacks on Gaza, which have killed 29 people since Friday, calling on Israel “not to underestimate Lebanon” like the state underestimates Gaza. However, the Hezbollah leader refrained from mentioning any response his party would take in support of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, instead saying that he supports “the right...