BEIRUT, (Reuters) – The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah said his militant group was capable of striking any target in neighboring Israel, saying “the days when we fled and they did not are over”.
“Today we are not only able to hit Tel Aviv as a city but, God willing, we are able to hit specific targets in Tel Aviv and anywhere in occupied Palestine,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address.
“For every building destroyed in Dahiya, a building will be destroyed in Tel Aviv,” he said, referring to Hezbollah’s stronghold in a suburb of southern Beirut.
Nasrallah’s comments were some of his harshest words against Israel in several months, and came amid rising tensions between Israel and Hezbollah’s main backer, Iran.
Israel argues Iran’s nuclear enrichment project is being used to make an atomic bomb and has warned it could launch a strike to stop Tehran. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes.
Hezbollah has long been seen as a proxy for Iran and Syria and many analysts believe that in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran, Hezbollah could return fire.
“The days when we were forced from our homes and they were not forced from theirs are over,” Nasrallah said, to cheers from a crowd of supporters watching his speech.
“The days when we were afraid and they were not are over,” he said. “And we say to them: The time has come when we will remain and you will be the ones who disappear.”
Hezbollah is both a powerful political party and militant group in Lebanon and fought a war with Israel in 2006. The group claimed it won a victory even though Lebanon suffered high casualties and many areas were heavily bombed.
Nasrallah was speaking at an event to mark the completion of Hezbollah’s renovation projects for neighborhoods in southern Beirut that were damaged by Israeli bombing in the 2006 war.