The Secretary-General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah Movement has delivered a speech marking the 15th anniversary of the victory against the Israeli regime’s 33-day war on Lebanon that began in July 2006.
More commonly referred to in Lebanon and the wider region as the July war, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah touched on effects of the victory against Israel after 15 years.
Nasrallah says the most important responsibility of all Lebanese is preserving the results and victory of the war. “The victory did not come through negotiations” he said “but through human sacrifices, patience and steadfastness.”
He stressed the importance of how this changed the equations and status quo against Israel as was witnessed most recently by the Palestinians’ 11-day battle against the regime in an operation dubbed sword of al-Quds.
When it comes to Lebanon, Nasrallah said the most important strategic and historical achievement was that the war maintained 15 years of security in the country.
For decades, Israeli warplanes used all of Lebanon as a playground to launch airstrikes as Israeli leaders pleased. Lebanese infrastructure, residential areas and institutions were struck, he said, “nothing was spared”.
With the exception of one incident in 2014, on the Lebanese-Syrian border, that left no material damage or fatalities (and prompted a quick response); since the 2006 war Lebanese citizens have enjoyed “security from Israeli warplanes”, attacks or any other forms of aggression.
The bigger question, Nasrallah said, that all Lebanese should ask themselves is; why has there been no Israeli airstrikes in Lebanon over the past 15 years since the July war ended?
Is Israel afraid from the UN Security Council, the Arab league, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation or public opinion? Is this down to Israeli ethics, faith or is the regime sticking to international rules and laws?
Of course not, even our children know this; Nasrallah quipped.
What has prevented Israel from launching airstrikes on Lebanon over the past 15 years, is in basic terms, Israel’s hesitance and fear of entering into another battle with the Lebanese resistance.
Nasrallah goes on to ask who prevented this “imperialist barbaric, immoral, inhumane enemy” protected by the United States, other global powers and “unfortunately some Arab nations?” Addressing all Lebanese, he said there is only one answer; referring to the movement itself.
Nasrallah says the regime is aware what the resistance can inflict “inside Israel, its vital infrastructure, its army” who showed its “failure” in the July war.
The Hezbollah leader went a step further saying Israel is afraid about its existence, should it wage another war on Lebanon. He put the deterrence down to the rise of Lebanese and regional resistance against Israel.
For this reason, Nasrallah highlighted, how the biggest Israeli concern since 2006, l is Hezbollah’s weapons. He says Tel Aviv has exhausted every single option at its disposal, no matter how far-fetched that option is, to disarm Lebanon from Hezbollah’s weapons.
Weapons that Nasrallah says safeguard the territorial integrity of the country. And an issue that Israel wants to go back to the era of pre-2006 and pre-2000 (Israel’s forced withdrawal from Lebanon).
Despite this, he says from 2006 until today, by Israel’s own admission, Hezbollah possesses more weapons, more experience, higher quality of training as well as expanding the scope and variety of its missiles including the expansion of high precision missiles.
The latter of which Nasrallah noted that Benny Gantz (Israel’s minister of war) himself said bluntly, the threat of Hezbollah’s precision guided missiles, is a game changer and poses a threat to Israel’s survival.
The Hezbollah leader also added that some Israel airstrikes in Syria are to help terror groups there, some are to halt efforts by forces fighting terror troops and some are aimed at military capabilities that reach the resistance movement in Lebanon.
Sayyed Nasrallah says Israel has failed on all three fronts and that all Israeli airstrikes in Syria have not changed anything.
He acknowledged the loss of human lives and material damage.
However, when it comes to the goals of the airstrikes; they have been a failure.
Syrian government force and its allies have defeated terrorists and the flow of “missiles to Hezbollah have not been affected”.
At the same time, Nasrallah noted that Israel is testing the waters to prop up some credibility.
This he says, is what happened over the past few days.
One incident led to another, Israel started shelling, this was met with quiet, the regime then launched three airstrikes at midnight on open fields with a view to then launching airstrikes on perhaps a building and slowly seeing how far it can go.
For this reason, Nasrallah said what happened is a dangerous development, the type of which Lebanon had not seen over the last 15 years.
The Hezbollah Chief said, some in individuals in charge, living in palaces, did not feel the airstrikes.
However, the residents that live near these open fields were terrified in the middle of the night, which Nasrallah said was the aim of the airstrikes, to terrorize the locals in the south.
Nasrallah says Israel had the impression that this will pass without a response, considering Lebanon’s multiple domestic crises.
He said Israel used the opportunity to try and rebalance the equations that Hezbollah had imposed 15 years ago.
Nasrallah says it was time to make a decision on how to respond.
Here, Nasrallah spoke very openly.
He said Hezbollah has two types of retaliation.
One can take weeks, months or even longer.
For example, following the death of a Hezbollah member in Syria. The resistance movement made preparations to kill an Israeli soldier.
Israel, anticipating Hezbollah’s response, deployed a heavy contingent of forces to the Lebanese border, about a mile wide, and kept them there for two months. They were heavily protected.
Nasrallah says the opportunity to make a successful operation did not arise. “We don’t just fire a rocket for the sake of firing a rocket” he noted.
The revenge will therefore come at a later time and place of Hezbollah’s choosing.
Citing another case of a Hezbollah member that Israel killed before in Syria, Nasrallah said a late response would have been worthless and valueless; that’s why Hezbollah reacted immediately.
He says this is also why Hezbollah responded quickly to the Israeli airstrikes with a barrage of rockets.
Nasrallah says both the enemy and the friends say Hezbollah’s response to the Israeli airstrikes was a calculated one.
Israel declared that it struck open fields and it did indeed strike open fields with no casualties or material damage.
“We also struck open fields in the occupied Shebaa Farms with no casualties or material damage.”
In a message to Israel “so the enemy knows. we have options” to escalate appropriately.
“There are open fields in Northern occupied Palestine.”
“There are open fields in the occupied Golan Heights… which we will of course fire from Lebanon not Syria.”
This is “a step in a series of steps that we can take” and “we immediately claimed responsibility in an open statement.”
Nasrallah said this was not a “secret, hidden response.” This was a “message”.
Nasrallah says the aim of the retaliatory attacks was to reimpose the 15-year status quo and the movement has no intention of changing the equations on the ground.
Nasrallah warned Israel any future airstrike in any area in Lebanon will be met with the appropriate response.
He advised Israel to examine the issue before undertaking any military adventurism; saying Hezbollah’s goal is to protect Lebanon and that this mission will be conducted no matter what circumstances the country is going through domestically.