BEIRUT — On the tenth day of Ashura, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah pledged that the party will respond to any Israeli attacks “in Lebanon.”
Here’s what we know:
• Thousands of Lebanese participated in the annual Hezbollah-organized march in Beirut’s southern suburbs to commemorate the tenth day of Ashura, which although observed by Sunni and Shia Muslims, the day is specifically associated with Shias and commemorates the martyrdom during the Battle of Karbala, where Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and his family died. Participants carried black flags of mourning as well as red flags for Hussein’s blood and declared their loyalty to Hussein and his companions.
• Despite the country’s profound economic crisis, a Hezbollah spokesperson claimed that donations collected at the event were “above the norm.”
• Nasrallah marked the end of the march with a speech in which he called for the formation of a “real government with full powers” so that “If the presidential election is achieved it will be a blessing, and if it is not achieved, there will be, at the minimum, a government capable of confronting the crises.”
• Presidential elections are needed before President Michel Aoun’s term ends in October in order to avoid a presidential vacuum. Lebanon is also without an empowered cabinet.
• On maritime border negotiations Nasrallah said that they are awaiting the Israeli reply to the Lebanese state’s demands and that the party “must be ready for all possibilities.”
• Nasrallah also claimed that Israel is planning to assassinate Islamic Jihad and Hamas leaders outside occupied Palestine, including in Lebanon. He vowed that “any attack on any human being in Lebanon will not remain unpunished and will not remain unanswered.”
• In response to a question about possible military responses to recent Israeli attacks on Gaza, a Hezbollah spokesperson said the party has never intervened militarily in response to attacks on Gaza, saying it always supports Gazans “morally.” The spokesperson reiterated that the party’s threat against the Israelis pertains to actions against Palestinians inside Lebanon.