BEIRUT (AP) – The leader of the militant Hezbollah group said Saturday that his group would take revenge on any future Israeli air strikes on Lebanon the day after his supporters fired a barrage of rockets on Israel.
Hassan Nasrallah said it was wrong to assume that Hezbollah would be constrained by internal divisions in Lebanon or the country’s severe economic crisis.
Nasrallah’s comments came the day after his group fired rockets at Israel, calling it retaliation for Israeli air strikes in southern Lebanon the day before.
Thursday’s air strikes – the first in years – were in response to mysterious rockets fired on Israel from Lebanon on Wednesday.
Friday’s rocket fire marked the third day of attacks along the unstable border with Lebanon, a major focal point in the Middle East that is occasionally tense between Israel and Iran, which supports Hezbollah.
“Every air strike by the Israeli Air Force on Lebanon is appropriately rejected because we want to protect our country,” said Nasrallah in a televised address on the 15th anniversary of the end of the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006.
Israel and Hezbollah are archenemies and have fought several wars in the past, the last ending in August 2006. The 34-day conflict ended in a tie that killed 1,200 people in Lebanon. mostly civilians and 160 dead Israelis, mostly soldiers.
“Make no mistake by saying that Hezbollah is preoccupied with Lebanon’s problems,” said Nasrallah, adding that the launching of missiles was a “clear message”.
He added that Hezbollah only fired 20 missiles into open fields because the Israeli air strikes on Thursday hit open fields themselves.
Lebanon is experiencing its worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history, which the World Bank describes as one of the worst the world has seen since the mid-19th century.
Israel estimates that Hezbollah has over 130,000 missiles and missiles that can hit anywhere in the country. In recent years, Israel has also raised concerns that the group is attempting to import or develop an arsenal of precision-guided missiles.
“We have always said that we don’t look for war and we don’t want war, but we’re ready for it,” said Nasrallah.
In his speech, Nasrallah sharply criticized the judge who led the investigation into the massive explosion in the port of Beirut last year, in which many people were killed and injured. Nasrallah said Judge Tarek Bitar’s work was “politicized”.
Nasrallah asked why Bitar had brought charges against the outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab, but not against the Prime Ministers who preceded him.
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