Al-Akhbar: Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has issued a new warning to Israel, affirming that the Resistance will stop any border breach in the manner it sees fit. Nasrallah also shed light on the circumstances surrounding the botched Israeli breach at Labbouna and revealed previously unknown details from the July war of 2006.
Nasrallah said that the explosion at Labbouna, which blew up an Israeli unit inside Lebanese territory, was not the result of an old mine, but two newly installed explosive devices planted by the Resistance. He proclaimed, “We will not tolerate any ground-based breach of our land.”
In an interview with al-Mayadeen TV aired on Wednesday night, August 14, Nasrallah spoke at length about the July war. “We were prepared for a long battle, no less than six months long,” he said.
Regarding the Israeli incursion at Labbouna, Nasrallah said that the Resistance planted new explosive devices before the detachment from the Israeli Golani elite unit crossed the border. Nasrallah added, “The first device was detonated against the first unit of the special Israeli forces. When the second unit intervened, the other device was set off.” However, Nasrallah did not disclose the objectives of the Israeli incursion.
Nasrallah pointed out that the Israeli breach was not the first to be carried out by the Israeli occupation army, saying that it is “laughable that after 65 years of confrontation with Israel, there are still people in Lebanon calling for the UN to deter Israel.”
He continued, “We recently started noticing Israeli violations of the border with the goal of carrying out operations against the Resistance and the residents. The operation at Labbouna may not be the last.”
“We will not tolerate any ground-based violations of our land. We will confront them in in the manner we see fit, at any point where we discover Israelis have crossed into our lands. At any place the Israelis cross into, we will cut off their legs,” he said.
Nasrallah maintained that the silence of the Lebanese political class about Labbouna was “not surprising, since some factions in Lebanon do not consider Israel an enemy.” He described Lebanese President Michel Suleiman’s request to submit a complaint against Israel to the UN as a “weak position.” Nasrallah then said, “We accept for the international community to equate between the victim and the executioner, and accept for it to condemn Israel and us both. But it is our right not to keep silent about any violation of our land.”
Referring to incidents in 2006, Nasrallah said, “When the two Israeli soldiers were captured, we were ready for any confrontation, that is, war; we were waiting for it before that, and we believed that this war was delayed until 2006. The Resistance was not confused and anxious, but enjoyed clarity during the battle, because it was prepared in advance.”
“In the July 2006 war, our goal was to inflict the largest possible number of losses in enemy ranks. In some places, we gave the brothers the freedom of assessment, and they decided to hold their ground until the last breath in Maroun al-Ras. In Aita, we had a larger number of brothers, and there was a period of time during which we lost contact with them, and thought they had been martyred.
“When communication was re-established, Hajj Imad Mughniyeh spoke to me and I told him, ‘Don’t force them to stay and fight.’ But the brothers resolved to remain there until the last moment. In Bint Jbeil, the decision was to stay and fight until the end, and prevent Israel from entering. From day one, our estimation was that the war would last for months at a minimum and we were prepared accordingly.”
Nasrallah went on to say, “A number of collaborators were arrested during the war. They were handed over to Lebanese security services and we did not liquidate them.”
“One of the reasons for the Israeli failure in the war is the weak intelligence they had. When the Israelis raided the Dar al-Hikma hospital in Baalbeck, it was because they thought the Israeli captives were there, but they had not been taken to Baalbeck, and the Israelis had wrong information.”
The secretary general also underscored the fact that the Resistance protected Beirut during the July war, not Lebanon’s political leadership. “The Israelis don’t care about any political pressure, which is why we put Dahiyeh against Tel Aviv. We had the ability to bomb it.”
Regarding the bombardment of an Israeli frigate during the war, which was the first major surprise of the conflict, and the Kornet missiles that destroyed 200 Israeli Merkava tanks and armored carriers, he said, “If the war had lasted more than 33 days, we would have destroyed hundreds more tanks,” revealing that Hezbollah had obtained the anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) a long time before the war.
In response to a question, Nasrallah said, “We obtained weapons directly from Syria, before the July war … A large part of the Resistance’s readiness in Lebanon relied on weapons from Syria. Many of the rockets we used during the Syrian war were Syrian-made. During the July war and from the beginning, the Syrian army arms depots were opened to the Resistance.”
Nasrallah also revealed that during the war, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent a message affirming that Syria was willing to participate in the war. Assad, according to Nasrallah, saw that “the assault on the Resistance was regional and international, with internal collusion, and that if the Resistance was defeated, the battle would continue toward Syria, with the Israeli forces proceeding from Hasbayya to Masnaa and Damascus.”
“I told Assad that our situation was excellent, that we were headed to victory, that [the Israelis] will fail to achieve any of their goals, and that I was not worried and did not believe that Damascus was in danger. For this reason, I called for patience and for [the Syrians] not to make any move, because we did not want a regional war and were able to win the battle.”
Nasrallah added, “We did not receive weapons from Iran during the July war because we did not need them.”
In response to another question, Nasrallah said, “Since the beginning of the July war, the whole focus was on the issue of the weapons of the Resistance, that is, the Resistance itself. When they went to the dialogue, they came to look for ways to solve the problem of the Resistance’s weapons. The true goal of March 14 to begin with is ‘give us your weapons,’ and their only concern is to get rid of the Resistance.”
“March 14’s position in the war was known, and then-prime minister Fouad Siniora and those behind him adopted the others’ goals during the war … We were contacted by this faction during the war, who offered us terms, including laying down the Resistance’s weapons and consenting to multinational forces deployed in the South and along the border with Palestine and Syria, in addition to handing over the two captives, but we refused,” Nasrallah added.
Nasrallah then said, “During the war, we did not feel that there was a prime minister or a political faction sympathizing with us, even humanitarianly speaking. It was Siniora who delayed the solution at the end of the war. The government should have conveyed our answer agreeing to UN Resolution 1701, but two or three days passed without the UN being notified.”
“While Israel was admitting to its defeat, Siniora’s team decided to strike at one of the most important weapons that contributed to our victory. On 5 May 2008, after the Winograd Commission announced that the most important factor behind our victory was our communications network, Siniora and his team wanted to destroy this weapon.”
Concerning the position of Michel Aoun, head of the Change and Reform bloc, during the July war, Nasrallah said, “I was not surprised by the position of General Aoun supporting us,” noting that one of Aoun’s distinguishing characteristics is that “he tells you straight what is on his mind.”
“When it comes to the position we were discussing before the war and his vision for the Resistance and defending Lebanon, he had firmly made up his mind,” Nasrallah added, saying that Aoun’s stance during the war was “historic.”
Regarding the issue of forming a new government, Nasrallah reckoned that the talk about a neutral government is a sham, and said that current circumstances in Lebanon demand a government of true national unity. Nevertheless, Nasrallah stressed, “We are still with Tammam Salam and support him as prime minister.”
Nasrallah noted that the proposal of Saad Hariri for both the Future Movement and Hezbollah to stay out of the new government was essentially an American demand. And whether or not he expected President Suleiman to endorse a fait accompli government, Nasrallah replied, “In the past, I did not believe this was possible. But after his latest speeches, maybe he will.”
Nasrallah said that the accusations against Hezbollah of standing behind the rockets fired at Yarzeh, in response to Suleiman’s position, were “ridiculous.” He also announced that there were promising leads in the ongoing investigations into the Bir al-Abed bombing, and said, “Saudi Arabia is practicing enmity with Hezbollah in politics, security, the media, and in everything.” He then denied that Hezbollah knew about or had anything to do with the kidnapping of the two Turkish pilots in Beirut.
Siniora Would Have Cut Off Our Heads
Nasrallah said that he entrusted Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri with negotiations during the July war and not then-president Emile Lahoud, not because Berri was a Shia, but because foreign powers had boycotted Lahoud after his term was extended.
He said, “I would not have entrusted it to Fouad Siniora because he was not reliable on this issue. The negotiations battle was essentially with Siniora and his political team rather than with the Americans and the Europeans, and if we had given them our necks they would have cut them off.”
Nasrallah pointed out that he entrusted former prime ministers Salim Hoss and Omar Karami “with our lives and our cause, so the issue is not sectarian but political.”
A Tour in Beirut
Nasrallah said that during the July 2006 war, he and his assassinated comrade Imad Mughniyeh “and a number of brothers” toured around in Beirut. “We noticed the difference between the quiet life, the evenings out, and weddings in the capital, and the calamity in Dahiyeh,” he said.
He continued, “We walked around in the streets at night and had sandwiches and ice cream, then returned to Dahiyeh. We felt that we were living in two different countries, but this comforted us. Indeed, our goal was to protect Beirut and its people from the aggression, and this was an additional incentive for us before we put the equation of Beirut against Tel Aviv.”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.