BEIRUT, Lebanon, (AP) – The leader of the militant Hezbollah group warned Israel on Tuesday it would face a “big surprise” that could shake the entire Mideast if it invades Lebanon again.
In a speech to mark the one-year anniversary of the cease-fire that ended last summer’s war between Israel and Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah also reiterated claims that his group possessed rockets that can reach any area deep in the Jewish state.
“Oh Zionists, if you think of launching a war on Lebanon, and I don’t advise to do it, … I promise you a big surprise that could change the fate of war and the fate of the region,” Nasrallah said during a rally in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold heavily bombed by Israeli warplanes during last year’s war.
The rally, attended by thousands of Hezbollah supporters waving the group’s yellow banners and the Lebanese flag, was organized by the Shiite Muslim group to mark the end of last year’s 34-day war, which Hezbollah calls “a divine victory.”
Nasrallah did not elaborate on his threats, but specifically referred to a Hezbollah missile attack that destroyed an Israeli warship in the Mediterranean while it was shelling Beirut’s southern suburbs.
Nasrallah, whose whereabouts are unknown, did not attend the rally. Instead, his speech was relayed to the crowd on giant television screens in a stadium and on top of buildings in the southern suburbs.
The war erupted on July 12, 2006, when Hezbollah guerrillas crossed the border into Israel and attacked an Israeli patrol, killing three soldiers and capturing two.
Israel then invaded southern Lebanon, unleashing a massive bombing campaign that destroyed most of the country’s infrastructure and shook its fragile political system.