Hezbollah will always stands by the Palestinian cause, Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said in a rare public appearance to mark International al-Quds Day on Friday evening in Beirut’s suburbs, an occasion during which he slammed sectarian incitement in the Middle East.
“We, Hezbollah, stress our complete commitment to the cause (of the resistance),” Nasrallah said. “We will remain on the side of Palestine and we remain committed to being on good terms with all Palestinian factions, even if we might disagree on certain issues.”
Supporters of Israel “want us Shia to exit the Arab-Israeli conflict and to get Iran out of the conflict,” he said.
“Call us infidels, call us terrorists, call us criminals, say what you want, try and kill us anywhere, target us any way you want, we are the Shia of Ali and we shall not abandon Palestine,” Nasrallah said to a crowd of cheering Hezbollah supporters.
The speech marked a rare public appearance for Hezbollah’s leader, who usually makes speeches remotely for security reasons. His last public speech was in September 2012.
International al-Quds Day is an annual event which started in Iran in 1979 to show support for the Palestinian cause.
“All of Palestine, from the sea to the river, must return to its people,” Nasrallah said. “No one in the world, no king, prince, sayyid, leader, president or state has the right to give up a single grain of sand of Palestine’s land.”
Nasrallah slammed efforts to distract the Middle East from the Palestinian-Israeli issue.
“Americans and Qataris have tried to push the compass away from this priority (Israel) by inventing other enemies,” he said, citing growing sectarian incitement in the region against Shias.
“Where is this Shia expansionism? They invented an enemy,” he said.
Nasrallah rejected what he saw as efforts to pit Sunni and Shia Muslims against one another.
“There are a lot of terms being used deliberately against the Shia, and the side standing behind this language hopes that the Shias will curse and insult our Sunni colleagues,” he said. “But the two groups are on the same side, they are both fasting during Ramadan.”
He added that “disagreements have reached a destructive level” in the Middle East, citing discord between Sunnis and Shias, Arabs and Kurds, nationalists and Islamists, and called for dialogue to resolve conflicts.
A day after Lebanese Army Day celebrations and the landing of two rockets near the defense ministry, Nasrallah saluted “the Lebanese army, its leadership, its troops and its martyrs.”
“We will continue to be the awakened and prepared resistance group to defend our country and our people against our enemy, side by side with the Lebanese army,” he said.
“Defending Lebanon’s dignity is in our flesh and blood.”