BEIRUT (AFP) – Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday “all possibilities” are open against Israel and warned the Jewish state’s 2006 war with his party would resemble “a walk in the park” in the event of renewed conflict.
“We have to act as though all possibilities are real and open (against Israel) and we must always be ready for any eventuality,” said Nasrallah, whose Shiite militant party is backed by Syria and Iran.
His comment marked the first time he has spoken so openly on the possibility of a renewed conflict with Israel since the war in Gaza began on December 27.
Nasrallah, addressing tens of thousands of supporters via video link at his stronghold in Beirut’s suburbs on the occasion of Ashura, said that the 2006 conflict would be nothing compared to what awaits Israel if it opens a second front.
“I say to (Israeli Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert, the loser, the vanquished in Lebanon that ‘you cannot overcome Hamas or Hezbollah’,” Nasrallah said. “Your 2006 war will be but a walk in the park compared to what we have prepared for you in the event of a new offensive.
“We are ready to sacrifice our souls, our brothers and sisters, our children, our loved ones for what we believe in,” he added. “We will not abandon the fight or our weapons.”
The July-August 2006 war devastated much of southern Lebanon and killed more than 1,200 mostly Lebanese civilians.
Hezbollah, whose powerful militia is the only armed faction in Lebanon, claimed victory over Israel after the war.
There have been fears since the Gaza war began that Nasrallah would call his troops into action but for now he has stuck to almost daily speeches to furiously denounce the Israeli offensive.
And the Lebanese government, in which Hezbollah has a representative, has repeatedly stressed that it is keen on not being dragged into a new conflict.
Nasrallah in his speech Wednesday also reiterated criticism of Egypt for refusing to open its border with Gaza and blasted the UN Security Council for failing to denounce the Israeli offensive that has killed nearly 700 Palestinians.
“Does the government in Egypt need more than 650 martyrs and 2,500 wounded to open the Rafah crossing once and for all to help the people of Gaza toward victory?” Nasrallah said. “I am simply asking for the opening of a crossing and not another front.”
He also commended Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez for expelling Israel’s ambassador to Caracas saying that all countries, including Arab states, must follow his example.
“Chavez’s decision is a slap in the face for all countries that host an Israeli ambassador,” he said. “Arab governments must learn from this great Latin American leader.”
Jordan and Egypt are the only two countries in the Middle East to have diplomatic relations with Israel.