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Monday 24 October 2011

Nasrallah: Tel Aviv Will Be First Target in Future War

Nasrallah: Tel Aviv Will Be First Target in Future War
By: Hassan Illeik
Published Friday, October 21, 2011

In closed meetings with officials of his party, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah reportedly spoke about security breaches within the party, readiness to fight off a new war with Israel, and prospects of an attack against Iran.

According to sources close to Hezbollah, the party's leader Hasan Nasrallah has been holding meetings over the last two weeks with the party's top-tier and mid-level cadres. Nasrallah took the opportunity to talk about pressing political matters, in addition to internal organizational issues. As usual, he opened his speech with a religious sermon, stressing the importance of faith and family.

After attending to some internal party business, he proceeded to talk about the resistance and the importance of confidentiality. He started by examining the case of the three Hezbollah members caught spying for US and Israeli intelligence services. Nasrallah seemed quite uncomfortable talking about the subject, especially because he had previously declared that Hezbollah was secure against such breaches.

Nevertheless, he continued by saying that the resistance was courageous enough to criticize itself, reflect on its actions, own up to its mistakes, and admit to any security breach it discovers. The three spies did cause harm to the resistance, Nasrallah admitted, but not harm that couldn't be remedied. However, he did stress that maintaining a high level of secrecy over resistance operations remained paramount. In this regard, he highlighted the importance of the cell structure within the party's military wing, which allows each group of fighters to operate independently, thus limiting potential security breaches.

Any war Israel decides to wage in the future will center on Tel Aviv and not Israel's northern settlements"

To illustrate his point, Nasrallah recalled the operation at the beginning of the July 2006 war, in which Hezbollah managed to strike an Israeli battleship off the coast of Beirut using a sophisticated land-to-sea missile. He revealed that only four people knew the resistance movement possessed this type of missile: Nasrallah himself, two military commanders, and the leader of the team in charge of launching the missile. Even members of Hezbollah's top leadership bodies were unaware the party possessed such an advanced weapon.

Nasrallah then proceeded to talk about Israel. He did not try to predict whether a confrontation was imminent or not. He simply said that those who foresee an impending war should be taken seriously; and those who say that the chances of war are minimal, are sound in their logic. Nevertheless, Nasrallah warned that Israel has always had the worst intentions towards Lebanon.

In 2006, he said, Israel wanted to "break the bones" of the resistance and annihilate it; but the resistance was able to turn the tables and "break the bones" of the Israeli army. "Any war Israel decides to wage in the future will center on Tel Aviv and not Israel's northern settlements," he said, warning, "Israel intends to launch the next attack without adhering to any of the red lines it had drawn for itself in previous wars." For this reason, the resistance will fight back according to new rules that it has drawn for itself.

He concluded his point by saying: "I address you from the position of someone who is fully aware of the capabilities of the resistance, and I promise you, next time, we will not stop at just `breaking the bones' of the Israeli army, we will `pulverize their bones' until there is nothing left." He also insisted that the resistance has many cards up its sleeve and holds "many, many surprises" that will "change the political map of the Middle East."

On the internal Lebanese front, Nasrallah said that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) had become a marginal issue, and was "now behind us, don't worry about it too much." He went on to underline the importance of strengthening ties between Hezbollah and its allies, such as Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri and General Michel Aoun. He reassured his audience that the threat of civil war had been reduced to zero "because the party that sought to instigate a sectarian war is no longer capable of doing so."

With a smile on his face, Nasrallah talked about his relationship with Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, referring to their last, relatively positive meeting together. He affirmed that he is keen on maintaining his relationship with Jumblatt as it is.

On the situation in Syria, Nasrallah spoke of the strategic role played by the Syrian regime in supporting resistance movements throughout the region, from Palestine to Iraq, to Lebanon. He reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad is now reasonably out of the danger zone, and that the Syrian regime's situation is much better now than it was three months ago.

On a final note, Nasrallah touched on Iran and the recent escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran. On this matter, he simply said that five years ago, the Islamic Republic's chances of being subjected to a military attack were as high as 90 percent, whereas today, they do not exceed 10 percent.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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