Hezbollah warns Israel against war

A457698.jpgHezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday warned Israel of a “great surprise” in the event of another war between the Lebanese guerrilla group and the Jewish state.Marking the first anniversary of the end of last year’s war between Hezbollah and Israel, Nasrallah said his group did not want conflict but described readiness as a duty. The United States and Israel were “beating the drums of war”, he said.

“If you think — oh Zionists — about launching a war on Lebanon, I will not promise you surprises such as those which happened (in the last war), rather I promise you a great surprise which could change the fate of the war and the fate of the region,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

The Hezbollah chief said he would not reveal what this was.

“The Zionists and Americans are beating the drums of war,” he said at the start of his speech, addressing tens of thousands of supporters gathered in Beirut to watch him speak on a screen.

“God willing there will not be a war. As I have said in previous speeches, we do not want war,” Nasrallah said, blaming Israel for last year’s conflict, which killed about 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 158 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

The conflict was triggered on July 12 when Hezbollah, a Shi’ite Muslim Islamist group, launched a raid into northern Israel and captured two soldiers.

“If, God forbid, war happens … we must be ready,” Nasrallah said, adding that his remark last month that his group’s rockets were capable of hitting any spot in Israel was designed as a deterrent and not to bring on a conflict.

“Readiness for war and preparedness for war is the most important means to prevent war,” he said.

The crowd gathered in Beirut’s southern suburbs, the target of a heavy Israeli air campaign in the conflict, waved the flags of Hezbollah and its ally, the Shi’ite Muslim Amal movement.

Since the war, Hezbollah, Amal and other Lebanese groups have been locked in a political struggle with the U.S.-backed government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

The standoff is Lebanon’s worst political crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war. Nasrallah said his group supported new efforts which Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, leader of the Amal movement, would begin to reach consensus.

Close to a million Lebanese were driven from their homes by last year’s conflict, during which 125,000 houses and apartments were destroyed or damaged in Lebanon.

Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, had so far spent $380 million on reconstruction and helping those afflicted by the conflict, Nasrallah said.

Hezbollah describes the war’s outcome as “The Divine Victory”.

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