Hezbollah at War Part IV: Where is Hassan Nasrallah “Hiding”?

From July 21, 2006 - by Sayed Hassan

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Interview of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah, by Al-Jazeera channel, broadcast on July 21, 2006, the ninth day of the war against Israel.

Translated for the first time on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the event. All speeches of Hezbollah Secretary General during the 2006 war will be fully translated, subtitled and published in English for the first time this summer.

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Where is Sheikh Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, who Israel vowed to kill? In a Hermel bunker, a region in northern Lebanon, bordering Syria, according to Israeli military sources. […] As soon as the Israeli strikes started, the leaders of the Shiite movement ‘buried’ themselves.” Sheikh Nasrallah hidden in a bunkerLe Figaro, July 20, 2006.

Our command structure and capabilities are in perfect condition and suffered no harm, and we have the ability to continue (the war at this rate) for very long. Also, regarding the situation on the ground, the fighters are not yet in action. Ground clashes that took place during the last two days are only the beginning of the confrontation. And therefore, these fighters present at the border provided no (serious) effort so far, and these last days, we are only at the beginning. Hassan Nasrallah, 6th floor of a building in the southern suburb of Beirut, July 20, 2006.

At the height of the Israeli air strikes, Hassan Nasrallah, who had given three speeches during the first six days of the war, gave no sign of life for nearly a week. The Israeli media and war propaganda, who claimed from the beginning that he had fled to Syria or Iran, now announced his death as a virtual certainty, because of this unusual silence and of the magnitude of the strikes against Hezbollah strongholds, including southern Lebanon and especially the southern suburbs of Beirut (Dahiyeh). The destruction was such that it gave its name to a military doctrine, formulated by the Chief of staff of Tsahal Gadi Eisenkot in 2008, consisting of the annihilation of densely populated urban areas in retaliation against the “Party of God”.

Massively hitting infrastructure and civilian populations from the air was all the Israeli army was able to do, with the IDF infantry suffering serious losses during its unsuccessful ground incursion attempts –dozens of dead and wounded, and the destruction of several 4th generation Merkava tanks, the most modern ones. The intelligence services of the Zionist entity, despite their reputation for excellence, had failed to penetrate any of the secrets of the Resistance, so that even the air strikes proved to be militarily ineffective. Despite Ehud Olmert’s initial rhetoric, announcing to the cameras that most of Hezbollah’s ballistic capability had been destroyed, missile / rocket fire against Israeli settlements and cities went on increasing until the last day of the war, striking the Zionist entity ever deeper.

The north of Israel was completely paralyzed, the country had lost billions of dollars and continued to suffer direct losses of $100 million a day (not counting indirect losses and repercussions on the rest of the economy). A million Israelis were displaced and another million were holed up in shelters: it was unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Israeli wars. On July 21, the White House received a request from Olmert and the IDF for the provision of large amounts of precision-guided munitions –another telltale sign that the Israeli Air Force had failed in its mission to degrade Hezbollah military assets significantly during the opening rounds of the war– , and mobilized its reserve forces in such a hasty and chaotic manner that until the end of the conflict, their supply of equipment, ammunition and even water will be defective. Every day, the official objectives of the Israeli aggression were revised downwards: the annihilation of Hezbollah, an insane objective to set, became its removal away of the border, then its mere weakening. But the Lebanese Resistance was to emerge from this war stronger than ever.

This interview, which was shot on July 20 and broadcast the next day by the Qatari channel Al-Jazeera, then the most important media in the Arab world –its luster was not yet tarnished–, shook the Zionist entity in more ways than one. The Hezbollah Secretary General appeared radiant and in an Olympian calm, during an interview of one hour and a half despite the security threats –the journalist Ghassan bin Jiddo himself revealed that he was stunned, the security service having originally announced half an hour as a maximum, but Hassan Nasrallah invited him to take all his time–, and he discussed at length not only the military situation, but also the Lebanese and regional political context.

Above all, the information he revealed about the extent of Israel’s failure was devastating: no Hezbollah cadre, all branches included, had been killed –although Israel claimed once again to have killed a multitude the day before, after dumping 22 tons of explosives on buildings in the southern suburbs of Beirut; no prominent Hezbollah cadre will be killed during the conflict–, no weapons stockpile was hit, and to his knowledge, not a single launching pad had been destroyed.

The enemy aircraft, which had no longer any military targets to hit, had got each and every military target wrong, which would be unbelievable if it was not stated by Hassan Nasrallah himself, who, as counterintuitive as it may seem to the Western audience, never affirms anything that is not strictly accurate, never promises anything that does not infallibly happen and never lies –quite unlike Israel, an entity built on usurpation and lies, and whose citizens trust the speeches of the sworn enemy more than the declarations of their own leaders. This was made possible by Hezbollah’s extreme secrecy along with a real deception program against the enemy, undertaken by Hezbollah as early as 2000.

As Alastair Crooke reported in the first part of his series of articles How Hezbollah defeated Israel,

Hezbollah’s robust and hardened defenses were the result of six years of diligent work, beginning with the Israeli withdrawal from the region in 2000. Many of the command bunkers designed and built by Hezbollah engineers were fortified, and a few were even air-conditioned.

The digging of the arsenals over the previous years had been accompanied by a program of deception, with some bunkers being constructed in the open and often under the eyes of Israeli drone vehicles or under the observation of Lebanese citizens with close ties to the Israelis. With few exceptions, these bunkers were decoys. The building of other bunkers went forward in areas kept hidden from the Lebanese population. The most important command bunkers and weapons-arsenal bunkers were dug deeply into Lebanon’s rocky hills – to a depth of 40 meters. Nearly 600 separate ammunition and weapons bunkers were strategically placed in the region south of the Litani.

For security reasons, no single commander knew the location of each bunker and each distinct Hezbollah militia unit was assigned access to three bunkers only – a primary munitions bunker and two reserve bunkers, in case the primary bunker was destroyed. Separate primary and backup marshaling points were also designated for distinct combat units, which were tasked to arm and fight within specific combat areas. The security protocols for the marshaling of troops was diligently maintained. No single Hezbollah member had knowledge of the militia’s entire bunker structure. […]

Lebanese (and Hezbollah) intelligence officials arrested at least 16 Israeli spies in Lebanon, though they failed to find or arrest the leader of the ring. Moreover, during two years from 2004 until the eve of the war, Hezbollah had successfully “turned” a number of Lebanese civilian assets reporting on the location of major Hezbollah military caches in southern Lebanon to Israeli intelligence officers. In some small number of crucially important cases, Hezbollah senior intelligence officials were able to “feed back” false information on their militia’s most important emplacements to Israel – with the result that Israel target folders identified key emplacements that did not, in fact, exist.

Deeply entrenched Hezbollah fighters were thus eagerly awaiting a ground operation that would allow them to inflict considerable losses on enemy forces. All the firepower of the most formidable army in the region, far from repeating a thundering and victorious blitzkrieg as in 1967, failed to inflict any damage to the guerrillas –or rather mujahideen– of Hezbollah, for whom serious business had not even begun, and whose position remained inflexible.

Hassan Nasrallah calmly envisioned a more dazzling victory than that of May 25, 2000, for both Lebanon and Palestine (Gaza was then feeling the full force of Operation Summer Rains), which he never lost sight of. And he even allowed himself to thumb his nose at the Israelis by mocking their essays over the length of his beard, as well as the Western countries and the Gulf monarchies –who were assisting the Israeli war effort with all their resources– explaining how he would infallibly force them to participate in the reconstruction of Lebanon.

The most remarkable aspect of this interview was only revealed six years later by Hassan Nasrallah, in another interview with Ghassan bin Jiddo on September 3, 2012. The journalist had never revealed it to anyone, respecting the secrecy he was bound to. He had, moreover, fully justified the trust Nasrallah had in him, having left Al-Jazeera after its interventionist drift during the “Arab Spring”, and founded the Al-Mayadeen channel, which is, with Al-Manar and Al-Alam, one of the three major media of the Resistance Axis.

At the beginning of the July 2006 interview, Ghassan bin Jiddo had maintained ambiguity about where they were, identifying the location as “a certain place in the world”, so as not to inform an Israeli enemy in full hysteria. Israeli commanders indeed made the assassination of Hassan Nasrallah an absolute priority, as they desperately sought the least military success to present to their public opinion. And as it will be revealed later, in addition to the western and Gulf intelligence services, Hassan Nasrallah was also hunted by a special Lebanese unit mandated by the felonious government of Fouad Siniora, who was plotting against Hezbollah.

In 2012, Hassan Nasrallah revealed for the first time that the interview of July 20, 2006 took place not in Iran, in Syria or in any remote part of Lebanon, but in the heart of the southern suburbs of Beirut, which were bombed daily, and who had just suffered the day before a massive raid of 40 enemy planes.

And it was not even held in a bunker or umpteenth basement, but on the sixth floor of a building, in a neighborhood that had been bombed several times by the Israeli air force, and from which one could hear enemy warplanes. Ghassan bin Jiddo, based in Beirut, immediately identified the place, as the safety measures during the roadtrip that took him to Hassan Nasrallah were minimal.

It is difficult to explain or even qualify such a fact. Is it courage, heroism, a spirit of sacrifice? Is it rather negligence and unconsciousness? Or is it the act of a particularly methodical, disciplined and impenetrable organization, which leaves nothing to chance, and which is therefore particularly sure of itself? This is clearly not an act of psychological warfare, as it was only revealed years later, probably to spare further destruction of Hezbollah bastions and let the enemy believe that Hassan Nasrallah had indeed taken refuge abroad.

Anyway, if we want to understand such a fact, we must keep in mind that Hezbollah is the “Party of God”, who, although it takes all the necessary material measures with the most infallible rigor, nevertheless believes with the most absolute conviction that any help, strength and victory come from God only, and that non-material factors always prevail. God helps those who help themselves, certainly: this precept is undeniable.

But the help of God is always the decisive factor, and if we asked Hassan Nasrallah what elements he believed had contributed the most to his security during this war, he would undoubtedly answer that well before a protocol worthy of the President of a superpower, it is his –and his brothers’ and supporters’– punctual prayers, days of fasting (he fasted on the day of the interview, as every Thursday –and Monday), the keen reading of the Qur’an, the recitation of the Invocations & Visits of the Prophet’s Family, resorting to Istikhara (which has certainly determined the location of the interview), ethics, good behavior, good deeds, acts of alms and piety, attachment to justice, etc., so many acts highly accepted by God and rewarded by His invincible help.

And if Nasrallah was to mention one thing in particular, it would be this fact that he evoked on April 2, 2016 during an interview devoted to the memory of Sheikh Bahjat (1916-2009), an Iranian Gnostic who was one of his main spiritual references:

“A few months before the 33-days war, one of our brothers, a student of theology in Qom (Iran), informed me that His Eminence Sheikh Bahjat –may God protect him, as we used to say then; now, we say may God Sanctify him– henceforth enjoined me to recite this invocation: ‘‘O my God, protect me with your invincible shield behind which You place whoever You want’’. (I had to recite it every single day), three times in the morning and three times in the evening. I asked him if there was a particular reason for this, and he replied that he knew nothing about it and that he had only been instructed to transmit this reminder (taught by the Prophet).

Of course, the content of the invocation indicates a security aspect, attention, protection, vigilance. And it is known that our conditions in Lebanon are very difficult because of security threats and the omnipresent possibility of an assassination, as it happened to our brothers in the past, and as it happened to our own (previous) Secretary General, Sayed Abbas Mousawi, who was martyred (murdered by Israel) with his wife and (5-years-old) son (in 1992). It is natural that one always feels in danger. So I told myself that something was going to happen, and my mind went to the security aspect and the possibility of an assassination, an attack (against me) or something like that. But a few months later, the war took place. And during the war, the Israelis, from the first day, tried by all means to locate me and hit massively any place where my presence was supposed. […] And then I understood that this invocation was meant to protect and safeguard me during the war, not before it.

It is likely that many readers will chuckle at what they’ll consider to be mere superstition, comparable, for example, to the protective rituals of the great Cheyenne chief Roman Nose (Woo-ki-nay) before each fight, or to  his inseparable sacred war bonnet, supposed to make him invulnerable –he died all the same during the Battle of Beecher Island. But it lies nonetheless at the foundation of the identity, belief, and even military doctrine of Hezbollah, which is certainly the most formidable unconventional military force in History.

Sayed Hasan

 

  

 

Transcript:

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Dear viewers, God’s peace be upon you. Suffice it to say that I am in the presence of the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Eminent Sayyed (descendant of the Prophet) Hassan Nasrallah, right now. The battles are continuing in that moment. We are at a certain time, in a certain place in the world, not just of Lebanon, as I used to say earlier. That is why I will make no introduction, and turn directly to Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to ask him questions.

Eminent Sayyed, first, thank you for agreeing to this meeting at this (particularly sensitive) time. Today, it’s been almost ten days since the war began. What can you tell us about the military and political developments?

Hassan Nasrallah: In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Summarizing the military and political situation at once would be difficult… 

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Without details, just an overview.

Hassan Nasrallah: Let me start with the ground, the military situation. The general situation that we can clearly mention militarily is first of steadfastness, a major and important steadfastness (of the Resistance against the Israeli aggression), and secondly a complete absorption of Israeli strikes.

During the last days, we believe that the Israelis did absolutely everything they could do from the air and the sea. Of course, we will talk about the possibility of a ground invasion shortly. But they have no target left (to strike), whether old, new, hypothetical, supposed, based on data or analysis… Everything they could hit, they hit. Among the targets they have struck, I will return to the distinction between military and civilian targets, but I want to talk only about the military side for now.

At this point, I can confirm without exaggeration, and it is not psychological warfare, these are facts, that Hezbollah’s command structure was not harmed. Last night, they conducted a very powerful strike on a building in the southern suburbs of Beirut (Dahiyeh), speaking themselves of 22 tons of explosives, and the strike was carried out by a large number of aircraft. And they boasted of having achieved a success, (alledgedly) killing Hezbollah commanders and many members of the Resistance. But that was not true. Anyway, your correspondent there reported that he had seen neither ambulances nor rescue teams, because the building was empty and under construction.

The entire command structure of Hezbollah, in its entirety, be it political, jihadist (military) operational, social, etc. (is intact). So far, the Zionists were not able to kill any Hezbollah cadres or leaders, at any level. 

Ghassan bin Jiddo: You talk about political or military leaders? 

Hassan Nasrallah: Both. In all certainty, I want to tell you and to tell viewers: whenever we have a martyr, we inform his family, we adopt (him officially as a Hezbollah martyr) and then we announce it publicly. We do not hide our martyrs until the end of the fighting, we have never done so in our entire history. On the contrary, we have always prided and glorified ourselves of our martyrs.

Until that moment, by the Grace of God, anything that relates to the Command or Operations of Hezbollah, be it the military or administrative (political, media, social…) command, having a direct relationship with the battle or a related role in other aspects, this whole structure is intact, and especially the military command structure on the ground. That’s the first point.

A second thing I want to stress is that all the Israeli claims that they have destroyed 50% of our ballistic (missile / rocket) capacity and supplies, they are about absolutely false and groundless. So far they have failed to hit anything at this level. I categorically confirm it. And the proof is the continuing missile / rocket attacks by the Resistance, not just ordinary Katyusha rockets that can reach only the settlements most in the North: the Resistance continues to hit Haifa, Tabariya, Safed and also the depth (of Israel).

And we also control the number of missiles / rockets that are launched. Today, the Resistance is able to launch hundreds of rockets / missiles in one day, and there is no obstacle for that on the ground, despite the intense Israeli movements of Israeli aircraft in our skies. But we limit the number of missiles / rockets (launched daily) because we manage our battle (our way) and I will return in a moment on the way we conduct our battle. Our command structure and capabilities are therefore in perfect condition and suffered no harm, and we have the ability to continue (the war at this rate) for very long.

Also, regarding the situation on the ground, the fighters are not yet in action. Ground clashes that took place during the last two days are only the beginning of the confrontation. And therefore, these fighters present at the border provided no (serious) effort so far, and these last days, we are only at the beginning. So whether on the land front, regarding the missiles / rockets in our possession, our abilities, our cadres and our command, our organization in general, be it on the military level or in other areas – political, social, media –, our structure is, thank God, intact and strong.

And the day of the strike against the Israeli warship off the coast of Beirut, the Israeli command decided to move all their warships several tens of kilometers away (from the coast of Beirut). And what is sometimes said in the media is wrong, about the fact that Israeli warships hit Dahiyeh (southern suburbs of Beirut) or that area, that’s incorrect. Now, in most places, Israeli ships (can) no longer carry out strikes because they are too far offshore. It is the Israeli aircraft which carries out strikes. At this level, they have a clear superiority.

So much for an overview of the situation on the ground.

Of course, confrontations took place, with the destruction of many Merkava tanks, especially that it is mostly the 4th generation Merkava, the most modern of Israeli tanks. The Israelis acknowledge the tenacity, strength and courage of the fighters on the front lines. And of course, we place our hopes on these fighters.

I believe that if you look at it globally, the military situation, I can confirm that so far, Hezbollah:

1 / successfully resisted,

2 / has managed to absorb the shock,

3 / was able to take the initiative,

4 / realized some of the surprises he had promised. And there are still a number of surprises that we keep for the next stage.

On the ground, Hezbollah continues to lead the battle calmly, with level-headedness and serenity, without excessive or uncontrolled reaction, as you can see, without empty threats, no loose talk. We are monitoring the situation accurately and calmly, and we take very carefully into account in our calculations all the data related to time (how long this war can last), places (to which confrontations may extend), numbers (of missiles / rockets or deployed fighters), capacity, battles, points, fronts and every detail at the military level.

That’s the general situation.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Excuse me, Eminent Sayyed, what guarantee do we have that what you describe as calm is not a pretense? And what guarantee do we have that you lead the battle calmly and not with impulsivity, and do not hide considerable military losses which Israel is talking about?

Hassan Nasrallah: First, you know Lebanon. Today, the Israelis imposed a total blackout on the media in the north of occupied Palestine and throughout occupied Palestine. Nobody can broadcast information or images of what is happening. It is the military censorship that allows any information to be broadcast (or not) or broadcasts it itself.

Even you, Al Jazeera (present in Israel), have suffered what you have suffered in terms of arrests, interrogations, restrictions, etc. Why would Israel make all these efforts to hide the truth on its side (if the situation was to its advantage)? Why? Is it only because they accuse the media of giving us (sensitive) coordinates? This is a childish pretext. The coordinates of such colonies or Israeli military bases, whether in the north, center, or any point in occupied Palestine are already in our possession, without need for anyone to provide us with data, information, images or whatever.

In reality, they want to hide the real impact of the war on their side, because if their situation was known, it would inevitably have (negative) consequences with the Israeli public, the Israeli media and morale of the Israeli people. And that’s what fears (most of all) the Olmert government and the IDF.

On our side, today, the Lebanese media publishes everything: the (destruction caused by) strikes, the martyrs, the civilian (victims), the martyred fighters… All the villages and all the roads are accessible, even the southern suburbs of Beirut, where the media came. The (images of) the place that was hit yesterday aired this morning. The media have been there and filmed / photographed everything. Therefore, everything is clear and transparent on our side. And you know Lebanon better than others, you know there are no secrets in Lebanon. If we have martyrs, at most we could hide them for an hour or two (if we wanted) but their family, their village would know (and would make it known rapidly) because these fighters do not come from abroad, they are the children of this country. If a Hezbollah commander was martyred, it would be revealed in a few hours. Therefore, we do not hide our martyrs, we take pride in them, and secondly, I assure you that with respect to the operational structure of Hezbollah, I confirm to you that things run their (normal) course.

Some time ago, the Israelis presented to the media a picture of a truck, claiming it was carrying Hezbollah weapons and ammunition. Very good. They film all the targets they hit. Let them show us images of launchers, missiles and military bases they would have hit. So far, they hit wrong (non-military) targets, which reveals on the one hand a technical and logistical failure, and also a failure of their information.

The water drilling machines they struck at Achrafiyeh, these old rigs, this clearly indicates that they have no information on the ground. And I do not agree with the analysis that they would have hit Achrafiyeh to draw Christians or the people of Achrafiyeh against the Resistance. We must be careful with these analyzes. The truth is they have photographed these two machines, which probably looked like missile launchers on their pictures, and they therefore hit them. It’s a failure. If they rely on their reconnaissance drones, it is a technical failure. And if they rely on agents on the ground, it is a failure of their information. So if they have pictures (of Hezbollah locations successfully hit), let them present them to the world.

Of course I do not pretend nor claim that they didn’t hit one single missiles / rockets launch pad. I can not say it (categorically). Perhaps one or two have been hit here or there for example. But after 9 days, the most powerful air force in the Middle East, among the most powerful armies in the world, which has the total control of the air, because we do not have the ability to fight in the air, its reconnaissance drones overpowering and crisscrossing all Lebanese sky, its pervasive and powerful aviation, striking forcefully with all types of aircraft, and despite all this, until now, the fact that Israel is unable to stop the missiles / rockets or reduce our ballistic capability is clearly (a huge failure).

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Can we say that the land battle has just begun or not?

Hassan Nasrallah: We can not say it exactly. So far, what is happening is that there are attempts of incursion on specific border points. In this respect…

Of course, Israel strives to achieve any success. But I tell you that the only accomplishment they have achieved so far is what any air force in the world can do, without even approaching the power of the Israeli Air Force: destroying bridges, destroying the airport, hitting the ports, factories and homes… This does not imply (great power), any force that has a few warplanes can do so. But in terms of facing the military structure of the Resistance, Israel (miserably) failed. They managed to kill women, children and the elderly, and to evacuate parts of the population that are now refugees. But against this Resistance structure, I confirm to you (Israel has proved powerless). And Israel knows very well that we are not (in urban areas), that we don’t hide among civilians (although they claim otherwise). (Our fighters are) on the front lines, in the mountains, valleys, among the trees, in a very large area.

Israel seeks to achieve any success. (They lie) when they speak about the building they hit this morning in the southern suburbs of Beirut (claiming that they killed Hezbollah cadres and members who were inside), or, as I have heard during the last two or three days, claiming they destroyed Hezbollah’s large fortified barracks and entrenched camps along the border. With the brothers, we debated whether to issue a denial or not. Some said it was better to let them congratulate themselves (for these illusory achievements) and present them to their people as (real) successes. Leave them to their delight at these (pseudo-) successes because it could mitigate their offensive by giving satisfaction to the Israeli army, making them think they have already achieved successes. Others said we’d rather be concerned about our own public opinion, which will be influenced emotionally in a positive or negative way (according to the news), and therefore we had to inform them of the truth.

Since when Hezbollah has fortified barracks along the border? The border points which they speak about are only points of observation and could not be more modest, comprising all in all a pole with a camera, connected to a room from where it was controlled. Nothing more. And all this has been evacuated from the first day. So if Israel now claims to have destroyed frontline positions, they mean these poles. And if they claim to have held frontline points, these are points on the border that we evacuated from the first day, when the capture operation (of Israeli soldiers) took place.

Currently, I confirm to you that Israel, now that its powerlessness (is revealed), has an intelligence problem from the air and ground. The majority of their agents (in Lebanon) are on the run, some of them were arrested, and others remained invisible. And the movements of their agents on the ground to set (targets) or provide information are greatly impeded. Anyway, Israel needs to send commandos inside the Lebanese territory, whether to collect information or to correct some strikes on the front lines, or make operations to capture or kill mujahedeen (fighters) of the Resistance, in order to be able to say they fought and achieved a success on the battlefield, especially that the Israeli navy has withdrawn after we hit their Corvette.

As for the air force, (all that it has done so far) is not successful, they have accomplished nothing. That’s why they look for any accomplishment on the ground.

What happened so far is in this framework, and I do not see it as the beginning of a ground invasion. But on this regard, I wish to state that firstly, we have faced these incursions with force and we have pushed them back, and were it not for the difficult conditions for obtaining and broadcasting images of the operations, we could have shown the tanks that we have destroyed, which would have been required and preferable, but anyway, they acknowledge themselves that tanks were destroyed, and that soldiers got killed and wounded. And I promise them more combat and heroic resistance from the mujahedeen (fighters) of the Resistance over the entire length of the border.

But regarding the choice of a ground operation, it is possible that they resort to it, and anyway, we were ready for that from day one. Of course, I do not want to raise expectations, and I do not make speeches (to give enthusiasm at the expense of reality). We are engaged in a real battle. I never said that the Israeli enemy would be unable to enter a single point of southern Lebanon. We are not a classic army extended from the sea to Mount Hermon. We are a movement of genuine popular Resistance. There are several regions and areas where we are not present. It is possible that the enemy manages to enter a point, to enter a village, to undertake a major ground operation.

And let no one say that Hezbollah had promised (that Israel would never be able to enter Lebanese territory). I repeat that I have never promised anything like this. And let no one say tomorrow that since Israel reached Mt. such or such village, they won a historic victory, never. That is not the issue. This is something that can happen at any time. As for us, our equation and our doctrine is that when Israel enters our territory, they have to pay a very high price in terms of their tanks, officers and soldiers. This is what we promise and we will keep this promise God willing. 

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Do you expect the battles to last for long? Until when? And do you prepare yourself, as stated by a (Lebanese) general, to lose many men?

Hassan Nasrallah: On this point, the battle… If I want to answer these questions, I must speak about the background of the battle.

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Of course, we never believed at any time that the Israeli aggression was the result (of the capture of Israeli soldiers). Perhaps the reaction of the first moments was a natural reaction to a capture of Israeli soldiers. But hours later, the issue went well beyond the response to a capture of prisoners, and Israel launched a (huge) project. This project, officials, leaders and Israeli media were talking about it, to varying degrees, we will return to it in more detail later.

For example, they talked to get rid of Hezbollah once and for all, not of the ballistic power of Hezbollah, but to annihilate Hezbollah. Then they set the bar lower, and spoke of dismantling the military structure of Hezbollah. Then they again revised their goals downwards, and spoke of ending the ballistic power of the (Hezbollah) military structure. Then they again revised their goals downwards – they go down a level per day – and they said they could not do away with the military power of Hezbollah, but they wanted to inflict damage on it and weaken its force.

Then they lowered the bar further, and said that they wanted Hezbollah away from the border. And of course, when they speak of pushing us 10 or 20 kilometers away, they know that it does not mean diminishing our ballistic power. Today when we hit Haifa, Afula and more distant cities still – and we have the ability to strike even further than that – talking about 10 or 20 kilometers amounts to a mere detail (without any impact on the ground). And at one point, they said no, the purpose of their operation was to free the two prisoners, but I guarantee you it is not the goal of their operation.

Anyway, slogans on the one hands, and objectives on the other hand that have been announced for this aggression mean that we are facing a process that can extend over time. I can not say one week, two weeks, three weeks, a month, more, less, because it is linked both to developments on the battlefield and to political developments. Currently… 

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Does it depends on you or on Israel?

Hassan Nasrallah: It depends on both us and them. The future of the battle… I’ll explain the situation.

Today in Israel, they begin to say, and it is a logical analysis, that the Israeli military operation has reached its peak. Because Israel can not do anything more than it already has. Apart from a ground invasion, which will in any way be very expensive, and about which there is a real debate not only among politicians, at the political level, but also at the military and security levels, there is a real dispute within the military and security commands. Remains only the question of the ground invasion. Besides the ground invasion, Israel has done all that it could do.

They arrived at the highest point (of their aggression), and now have two options: when one arrives at the peak, either they advance horizontally, that is maintain the same firepower, the same dose, or they start to decline in intensity, military operations begin to diminish, to calm down gradually, opening the door to a political resolution. How long will last this process? It depends on developments (in the battlefield).

Today, as the war continues, the entire north, northern Israel is paralyzed – sorry, I mean northern occupied Palestine, I apologize, the north of occupied Palestine is paralyzed. There are two million Israelis who are either in shelters or got out of the region, were exiled from the region (and became refugees). All the northern economy is paralyzed: factories, trade, tourism, all economic activities are paralyzed. It may be that the number of people killed and injured on their side is much lower than ours, which is natural because we do not have…

They have a considerable arsenal, while our arsenal is not meant for destruction, retaliation and revenge, but only for deterrence. They have a huge capacity of destruction, I do not exaggerate. And they have shelters. Show me a single village in the south that has shelters. So far, much of Southerners are still in the south. And if we had the means to build shelters, all would remain and there would be no refugees. Nobody today would live in schools waiting to be provided with their daily bread. But in Israel, from the border to remote areas towards the south, there are shelters for colonies. It is therefore natural that there be fewer deaths and injuries in Israel. But the damage to the economy, and the pressures faced by the (Israeli) people (in occupied Palestine) because of the exodus and life in shelters (becomes unbearable)…

Israel promised them a quick operation, and keeps repeating every day (that the final victory is imminent). The first day, the second day, the third… Every day, according to (the propaganda in) Israeli media, they kill me two or three times, they kill Hezbollah commanders (by dozens), they perform extraordinary (military) feats, etc. But then, how long (this propaganda) can last? So far, Israeli society is united around its government. We have already experienced this in 1993, in 1996, in previous wars, but this support will start to crumble if the war continues.

Therefore, military operations can be maintained at the same intensity or diminish, and the next stage higher still that can be expected is the ground invasion. And at this level, I confirm to you that it will be a disaster for the Israeli army, and it is not a (vain) threat. You know, from the first day, I try to speak in a very calm and measured way. The question now, if they continue, is…

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Excuse me, you spoke several times of ‘disaster’, what do you mean exactly?

Hassan Nasrallah: A disaster for their tanks, their officers and soldiers, who will pay a very high price. From day one, even on the (intra-Lebanese) negotiating table, even in my previous speeches, I said that as for the (Israeli) air force, I (Hezbollah) could not down a F-16 aircraft. We have never claimed such a thing. Even as regards the navy, we had claimed / promised nothing, and we have surprised them at sea (by destroying their Corvette).

But on earth, we have an experience of 23 years, a serious and authentic experience, combat capability and a very high expertise, very effective weapons at this level, and very strong preparations in this regard. So it’s a matter of time now.

I do not consider probable that Israel manages to achieve any military accomplishment on the battlefield. It is only a matter of time, of keeping our military steadfastness on the one hand, and political steadfastness in the country (on the other hand), as well as popular steadfastness of the country. Israel relies on the disruption and weakening of our internal political situation, (bargains on the fact) that popular support for the Resistance will get undermined, weaken and crumble, so they realize political results. And for our part, we naturally rely on the steadfastness and persistence of our people, the weakening of the Israeli Interior popular support for the Israeli military operation and the beginning of pressures against the enemy government (to stop the war), and I believe that today, we see the first signs of that.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: We’ll talk about political issues, but what you just mentioned about the popular steadfastness is important. It’s not a secret, Eminent Sayed, that in areas where Hezbollah fighters are, you enjoy a genuine popular support. Now part of this genuine popular support has evacuated, (becoming refugees), and has already been hit hard, there is complete destruction… Frankly, do you still believe in your popular support? Don’t you think that even if you win militarily, you lose on the popular level, even within your own sect (Shiites), your own grassroots, not to mention the other (parts of the Lebanese population)?

Hassan Nasrallah: Before our interview, (I met with) my (Hezbollah) brothers, who go to all the places where Lebanese refugees are located, meet people and talk to them, and the most important is that they have informed me that embassies of Western countries sent survey teams to the places where the refugees were. And when they asked questions to the refugees, they asked about their religion and sect. And of course, they are primarily interested in the opinion of the Shiites, because of the (sectarian) structure of the country, because they believe that if the Shiites begin to crumble and distance themselves from the Resistance, this can be a (strong) indication of the estrangement of the other components of the Lebanese population. Because of the situation of the country, this is how things are (the popular base of Hezbollah is mostly Shiite, this component being the largest in the country).

And these survey teams left the scene stunned after their visits and meetings. They found very strong support for the Resistance, a willingness to endure and sacrifice. They heard many women say they are willing to sacrifice their children, and even to go fight themselves. “We are steadfast, we have patience, we endure, and we do not accept that the Resistance be defeated, humiliated or hit.” Anyway, there is no need for myself to go and ask refugees nor that anyone (specific) goes there (to report about the situation), people can go there by themselves to meet these people, but appropriately and honestly. (The media) should not take a person who is not even a refugee, and who’d pretend to speak on their behalf.

All field data and all our information (confirm this strong support for the Resistance), and anyway, we are in permanent contact with them, because they are our families, whether in villages or towns (in the South) who continue to face (the Israeli aggression), in the more remote regions or among refugees. Such is the general feeling, and it is a certainty for us. And in my opinion, it is well known, at least to the Western embassies who follow the situation closely, and provide information to the Israelis and decision-making centers in the world. And the responses they have received today will influence the future of the battle.

And on this point, I thank all the (Lebanese) who by their position and their stamina will lessen the number of days of the war. Why? Because if the survey teams had heard from people a beginning of weakening, exhaustion or collapse, they would have said to Israel “Continue, you can achieve your objectives, and it does not require much more time”, because Israel can not stand a long war, and based on this, the intervention of American leaders and others (to end the war) would have been postponed. But today, yesterday and the day before yesterday, and especially today, they heard very strong words, widely adopted, noble and dignified, and with certainty, I tell you that they began to despair (of detaching the popular base of Hezbollah from the Resistance or achieve any goal in this war).

And I want to repeat what I said a few days ago: we really have a dignified people, and I speak of the Lebanese people in general, I do not mean just the Shiites. The Lebanese people is honorable, dignified and great, and these are not flattering or exaggerated words. Today, you can go to any region of Lebanon, whether mostly Christian, Sunni or Druze, and see how they behave with the rest of the Lebanese refugees.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: But it seems that there is a distinction, a separation between compassion with these refugees, based on their being Lebanese, and vis-à-vis what Hezbollah and the Resistance do. It is said that the other sects and other parties do not approve the attitude of Hezbollah, its behavior, and how he brought Lebanon in this battle, as they say.

Hassan Nasrallah: I am not speaking of some political forces, I mean the people, who generally live in a difficult position, the honorable people, of whom we see the pride, honor, patriotism, especially that now,  all the political forces say that what happened happened, and the settling of accounts should come later, as we say ourselves, no problem (we are ready to be held accountable). The political atmosphere is to unite to face this battle. This level of political discourse in which there is less incentive –I’m not saying that there is no incentive, I say that there is less (than usual)– gives people the opportunity to see things from their inner nature (without being influenced). Today, the masses of the Resistance do not feel isolated from the nation and the people of Lebanon, and the Resistance does not feel that its masses around it began to move away from it in any case. I guarantee you that the masses of the Resistance are more resolute and determined (than ever).

And even when we go… For there will certainly be (internal) negotiations and political debates. When we go into these negotiations, one of the most important things that Hezbollah leaders must keep in mind is that behind them stand masses who will not accept what they would consider as humiliating concessions, etc. These masses will have high expectations from Hezbollah, at the height of the endurance of the people and their sacrifices, and it is what we are going to get.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Anyway, Eminent Sayed, there are voices that say that Hezbollah can currently be strong in the field of military standpoint, at least, as you said, but it seems to be excluded, isolated, rejected internationally, and also to have its back against the wall politically inside (Lebanon). Even those who were your allies in the past, I do not say (all of them), but even the political forces with which you used to get along inside today do not hide their discomfort. True, they say that the settling of accounts will come later, but they do not hide their discomfort and even say this: “How can Hezbollah make Lebanon pay the price for its actions, hijack the whole country, make decisions alone? The government was not informed (of the capture of Israeli soldiers) and does not bear the responsibility nor adopts this action. Is such a thing reasonable?”

Hassan Nasrallah: Very good. So let us say that we start to address the political situation. But first I want to conclude the first part (devoted to the military situation).

Since we talked about the ground, strikes and settlements, I want to speak to the (Palestinian) family who was hit in the city of Nazareth: in my name and on behalf of my brothers, I apologize to this family, and of course, an apology is not enough, I take full responsibility. This was in no way our intention, but anyway, those who were killed in Nazareth, we consider them martyrs of Palestine, of Lebanon, of the (Arab-Muslim) Community and of the Resistance. In any serious and violent confrontation of that level, such mistakes may occur. I extend my condolences and apologies to them, and I humbly hope they will accept my condolences and apologies. That said between brackets.

I now approach the political aspect. Regarding the political situation, first, if we want to talk about the international community, it has never been on our side (in History), not one day, for us to say that today it is no longer with us, besieging us, abandoning and forsaking us: it has always been like that, and it was even mostly against us. For example, we are on the list of US terrorist organizations since the creation of this list. We are among the first to be designated as such. And there are also a number of European countries that put us on their list of terrorist organizations. The international community’s position is clearly (alongside Israel), and therefore, we are not surprised by its current position, and we never counted on it, absolutely never.

The international community adopts international Resolutions that Israel has never applied at all. Even the (1978) Resolution 425 (requiring Israel to withdraw from Lebanon) has not been applied by Israel (voluntarily), it is we who have imposed it on them (by force from 1982 to 2000). All decisions related to the Palestinian cause have never been applied in anything by Israel, even those on the occupied Arab territories (in 1967). That’s the first aspect. But this is not a new element for us, nor a pressure factor.

Regarding certain positions of Arab (countries), of course, it’s new, it’s true. It’s new. In the past, some Arab regimes abandoned the Resistance and Lebanon. And today, we accept from the Arab regimes… I am very precise and factual. We accept them to be neutral, nothing more (because we know it is the maximum we can expect from them). And in the past, we accepted this neutral position from them. If you consider Hezbollah speeches (since 1982)… Maybe our brothers in Palestine have a different approach, and it is their right, their conditions are much more difficult than ours. They keep attacking the (Arab) regimes, accusing and condemning them and their leaders, etc. But that is not present in our speech and in our practice. Why? Because we have forgotten them. What’s the point? If you consider that someone is present and exists, you can count on him or blame him. But if you consider that they are completely absent, that they do not exist, to count on them or blame them would be a vain exhaustion of your efforts, like boxing shadows.

Vis-à-vis the international community, once, we expected from them to condemn the executioner and to be compassionate with the victim. But we got to a point where we agree, we are satisfied that they condemn the executioner and the victim together. This has become our natural expectation that a resolution condemning both the executioner and the victim is issued, it is good (it is the maximum they can do)!

As for the Arab regimes, everything we expect from them (the maximum we can hope) is that they be neutral (and don’t plot against us). But for them to (support Israel)… And if they do not want to be neutral at worst let them equate us with Israel. We accept that they make the executioner and the victim equally (guilty). But for them to get involved in the victim’s blood effusion, and to cover the crimes of the executioner, this, I tell you (honestly), we did not expect it. Yes, is that a surprise? It is a surprise.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: [Inaudible] A surprise, yes, some days ago…

Hassan Nasrallah: (It does not change) anything, nothing at all. 

Ghassan bin Jiddo: But they are essential countries, Eminent Sayed, founding countries who have a key position, who influence the Arab League and other Arab countries… 

Hassan Nasrallah: Currently, we are in wartime. There is a lot of internal debate in Lebanon and among Arab countries. So let us leave this issue aside. We talked about accountability, but we too have a long list of people to hold accountable.

I agree and I add my voice to those who have said before me –that’s not my saying, this has been said before me and I confirm and repeat it–: I categorically affirm that the Israeli reaction to our capture of soldiers could have been severe but limited if an Arab and international cover had not been given to them.

Israel has not received a green light from the United States (to carry out its own operation), Professor Ghassan. Israel was informed of a US decision asking them (to attack Lebanon and) to end this issue (Hezbollah). As to the data that lead to the US decision, we leave that aside for the day of reckoning. The international community has not given a green light to Israel. The international community has provided Israel with a resolution to end the Resistance in Lebanon. And some Arab (countries) also came to provide cover (to the attack), to encourage Israel to persist in this battle, and to tell Israel that this is the golden, historical opportunity to end the Resistance in Lebanon.

And I tell you, the goal is not only to end the Resistance of Hezbollah in Lebanon. They want to do away with any desire or inclination to Resistance in Lebanon, whether by Hezbollah or anyone else. They want to lead the country to a stage where even the word “Resistance” is a condemned word, as well as the words “martyr”, “jihad”, “injured”, “steadfastness”, “resilience”, “Liberation”, “freedom”, “dignity”, “noble”, “honor”, “greatness”. All these words should be expunged from the Lebanese dictionary and vocabulary, from Lebanese newspapers, political conventions, political spirit and popular consciousness. That is what Israel is currently undertaking. This is needed by the United States to reorganize the region (according to their interests).

I affirm categorically, and we’ll talk about it the day of accounts, because today people do not know where the truth lies, but I will tell the whole truth: without the stance of some Arab (countries who supported the Israeli aggression), this war would not have lasted and it would have been over in a few hours. And then, in subsequent discussions, everyone could have said what they had to say, and we would have done the same.

Today, we do not ask (anything from anyone), and I do not expect anything from some Arab countries. I know the (Arab-Muslim) Community. If you ask me about it, I know that if we probed the hearts of all Arabs and Muslims, we would see that they are with us. (They can express their support by) remaining in front of their TVs, crying, feeling compassionate, and when they hear good news, they’d stand up, burst of joy, etc., and they’d cry and sympathize when hearing bad news; and if they have the opportunity to express their true position, they clearly express it. I have no doubt about it. I am confident that even some of the sons, daughters and wives of the Arab leaders (who support Israel) are with us.

But I say to the Arab leaders: I do not want your swords and I do not even want your hearts. It would be enough that they’d leave us alone, to put it colloquially (in Lebanese dialect), be neutral, do not worry about us, it would be good enough. You said what you had to say (Saudi Arabia condemned the capture of the soldiers, designating Hezbollah as “adventurers”), may God grant you health, (and please leave us alone and do not plot against us).

Today, a war is imposed on Lebanon, and its goal is the liquidation of anything closely or remotely related to Resistance and Resistants in Lebanon, and educating Lebanon by a crushing defeat inflicted by Israel, and in truth, the war against Lebanon ultimately seeks to liquidate the Palestinian cause. Everyone knows that massive intifada that began in Palestine was triggered in the footsteps of (the 2000) victory in Lebanon. What is happening in Palestine is a Palestinian copy of the Lebanese model, its continuity. Well, today, when you come to destroy the Lebanese model, what do you say to Palestine? “You need to despair (to achieve anything by Resistance).”

Today, when all these massacres are perpetrated in Lebanon and no one in the Arab world or in the international community reacts, we should expect that tomorrow, more serious atrocities still will be perpetrated against the Palestinian people, worse than anything suffered by Gaza so far, and no one in the world will lift a finger.

Therefore, defeating the Resistance in Lebanon means from their perspective defeating the Resistance in the region, ending the Palestinian cause and imposing Israel’s conditions for the resolution (of the conflict). As was stated (by the Secretary General of the Arab League) Amr Moussa, “It’s over, there is no peace process anymore.” There was an (allegedly) honest broker, that has never been honest or impartial if only one day (the US), but today, the peace process has been fully placed in Olmert’s hands. And before Olmert, Bush enjoined the Arabs and the Palestinians to accept what Sharon gave them. We should accept the crumbs they propose.

This is the objective of the aggression against Lebanon. This is in no way a reaction to the capture of two soldiers, the question far exceeds that. But I confirm to you that they will fail in their objectives, if we want to discuss the results.

As for what you asked, about why I did not inform or ask (the Lebanese authorities before the capture of the Israeli soldiers).

First, the Ministerial Statement of the current Government, to which we contributed, clearly states the adoption of the Resistance by the Government, and its natural right to liberate the (occupied Lebanese) territory and the (Lebanese) prisoners (held by Israel). Well, how could the Resistance free the prisoners? Should we go (intercede) with George Bush? I do not have the possibility to do so, and it’s out of the question anyway, okay? And when we speak of the rights of the Resistance, we do not talk of the rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we talk about the rights of armed Resistance, and it is confirmed in the Ministerial Statement, our right to liberate the territory and the prisoners. I am the Resistance, I have weapons (what can I do but use them)? That’s the first point. This Government’s Ministerial Statement was issued on the basis of the confidence of the Chamber of Deputies. That’s the first point.

Second, on the negotiating table –because some people say that the Sayyed (Nasrallah) had announced (the capture of enemy soldiers project) or not. Records exist. It is true that I said that we will maintain peace on the border, it was our policy, but there was two exceptions. I spoke about four points in all.

On these four points, two points could be delayed, adjourned, postponed, no problem. It is 1 / the perpetuation of the occupation of the (Lebanese) Shebaa Farms, for which we can take our time, because it is a limited piece of land, and we will not start a war such as the one currently taking place to liberate these farms, and 2 / air and sea violations, and even land violations, we can bear them. It is true that there are (daily Israeli) violations of our sovereignty, and we must condemn them, but will we put everything upside down for this? No.

And there are two points that could not tolerate being delayed: 1 / the prisoners, because (to end their suffering and their families’) is a humanitarian cause, and 2 / aggression against civilians.

And I told them on more than one occasion that on the issue of prisoners, we were very serious, and that this could only be resolved by the capture of Israeli soldiers. I clearly pointed it out. Of course, I did not tell them “I’ll capture Israeli soldiers in such day of July”, it is absolutely impossible. Except…

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Excuse me, you informed them that you were going to capture Israeli soldiers?

Hassan Nasrallah: I told them that we were determined to to solve the prisoner issue, and that it would be resolved only by the capture of Israeli soldiers. 

Ghassan bin Jiddo: You told them this clearly? 

Hassan Nasrallah: In all clarity. And nobody told me “No, we forbid you to capture Israeli soldiers”. And they would not have had the right to stop us, even if they did (we would not have obeyed), I’m not trying to defend myself. And I mentioned that we were going to capture Israeli soldiers during meetings with some of the main political leaders. I will not mention their names now, but I will at the reckoning. They then asked me, “If this happens, will the prisoners issue be ended for good?” And I said that, obviously, we would then close the issue of prisoners.

And I can confirm to you that our calculations were not wrong, and I do not exaggerate. Worldwide, dear master, around the whole world, you will not find any example of a State, an Army or a War that was triggered against a State because some people captured or kidnapped two soldiers, or even took hostages, not soldiers or military personnel. This has never happened in History, and Israel itself has never done anything like this. But today, what is happening is not a reaction to the capture of two soldiers. I repeat, it is an international decision supported behind the scenes by (certain) Arab (countries). And this decision is linked …

I guarantee you that if we had not captured the two soldiers in July, possibly in July, August or September, at least within a limited time, Israel would have entered this battle and made up any excuse, any pretext (to launch this war). Because enough is enough: the liquidation of the weapons of the Resistance and of the Resistance itself can neither be done inside (Lebanon), nor via the regional situation, nor on the negotiating table . And the United States clearly understood that this would never be resolved internally.

Therefore, “O Lebanese, move aside, and open the way for Israel to finish off Hezbollah and remove his weapons, but we need support (behind the scenes).” And they went looking for international and Arabic support. This is the reality of the situation.

And lastly, I declare to you that worldwide, no Resistance will proceed differently: if I want to capture two Israeli soldiers, we need (Hezbollah’s) political leadership to make the decision and communicate it to me. But it is not necessary that my (Hezbollah) brothers know the hour, the moment, the specific place, etc. If 60 or 70 people know these details, can the operation be successful? Never. So do not even suggest that we should inform a Government composed of 24 ministers, three Presidents, various political forces and political disputes, etc. At the (intra-Lebanese) negotiating table, we discuss and negotiate, and one hour after the meetings, all that happened during our meeting is known to the (Western) embassies. You want me to declare to the world that I am about to take prisoners? It is not logical.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: But Eminent Sayed, it seems that you lay the blame (of war) on the opposing party (USA / Israel), saying they had this (longstanding) project (to eradicate the Resistance), and that the capture of two (Israeli) soldiers was only a pretext. But some say the exact opposite, and at least the statement of the (Lebanese political) March 14 alliance (opposed to Hezbollah) and its political statements were very clear: (they say that) what happened is part of a Syrian-Iranian project; that by your action, you brought the country to the situation before March 14 (2005, assassination of Rafik Hariri and withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon); that you thereby serve the project of Iran, which is currently fighting against the United States in this regard; Syria now wants to regain its influence in Lebanon by this route; (in short), you have turned the situation upside down by your action.

Hassan Nasrallah: Very good. It is good that we discuss this. This symphony is recurring in Lebanon. (Our opponents) play it endlessly, whatever we do, in any case, they (always throw) Iran and Syria (at our face).

Let me begin directly by the capture of prisoners. It is true that I have not informed the Lebanese government, but I have not informed my closest allies. Syria was not informed. Iran was not informed. There is absolutely no Syrian or Iranian who was aware of it. First, they are not aware, and I have not sought advice from any of them. We are a Resistance present in Lebanon, we have prisoners in Israeli jails, it is our natural right to bring them back with us, a long and explicit Ministerial Statement confirms this right, and we therefore took action. This is the whole story.

If we analyze the facts afterwards to determine whether Syria is the one who told us to do this, we realize that these allegations are ridiculous and shameful, and it is the same for Iran. Why would Syria want Hezbollah to do such an operation? It is the analysis of some politicians (in Lebanon), who claim that it would be to postpone or terminate the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL, tasked to identify the killers of Rafik Hariri). This is childish. Why is this theory preposterous?

Today the international community is monopolized by the war against Lebanon. But in one, two, three weeks, a month, it will be over. And in August, (at the latest) in September, the STL will resume its work. Can anyone believe that a war of this nature will neutralize the STL if the will of the international community is to maintain it? That’s the first point. (Such inconsistent theories) make fun of the people, and only simple-minded people could believe them. And I’ll tell you what the purpose of this (manipulation) is: it aims to strip the Resistance in Lebanon of its patriotism, its ethics and its humanity, and to present it as a party or a group that is only a tool of Syria and Iran, works for the interests of Syria and Iran and ignores or tramples Lebanese interests, and even acts at the expense of Lebanon’s interests. This is regarding the Syrian issue.

As for Iran, if a war happens in Lebanon, after two or three months it will end. How long can it last? It will eventually come to an end. And what will it change for the Iranian nuclear issue? What will it change? On the contrary, I declare to you that if there is a relationship (between the war) and the Iranian nuclear issue, the war that is being waged today against Lebanon is not in the interest of the Iranian nuclear issue. The United States and Israel always took into account in their calculations that if war against Iran was launched, Hezbollah may intervene on the side of Iran. If we strike Hezbollah just now, what does it mean? It weakens Iran in the Iranian nuclear issue, it does not strengthen it. How do they read the political situation?

What is happening now from our part is a defense (of the interests of Lebanon), with no connection to the STL or the will to end the STL, this is the most ridiculous statement, and I hope that no one will utter it again.

O my brother, on May 10, we went down to protest in the streets to defend the workers’ rights, to shout our refusal to see the people starved, to defend social gains and refuse submission to the dictates of the IMF, and (these same opponents) accused us of destroying the country and wanting to end the STL. Today, we captured (Israeli) prisoners to end the file of (Lebanese) prisoners (held by Israel), a war was imposed on us, and we find ourselves accused of having started a war to end the STL. Such remarks are shameful. This question has nothing to do with Syria and nothing to do with Iran.

And I want to add something else: Hezbollah has always, absolutely always given the priority to Lebanese national interests over all other considerations. And at the (intra-Lebanese)  negotiating table, I submitted this point in the debate, and I asked them: “You know us since 23 or 24 years. I can say to all of you –the majority, not at all– which battle he conducted that was not in the interest of Lebanon, but in the interest of other countries. But show me an action of Hezbollah in Lebanon and a war in which Hezbollah fought that was in the interests of foreign powers and not in the interests of Lebanon.”  They were unable to give a single example. Someone mentioned the (Western) hostages issue (1982-1992). I replied that firstly, it is not Hezbollah who captured the hostages. And secondly, the organizations that have captured the hostages in 1982 and 1983 helped by their efforts to secure the release of hundreds of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails, and especially in the Atlit military prison. And there are witnesses, because among those who participated in the negotiations (as intermediaries), there is the President of the Chamber of Deputies Nabih Berri. Therefore, even those hostages were taken to (save) Lebanese (citizens), and not for Iranian and Syrian interests. And Hezbollah has no role in the hostage issue.

I challenged them to give me one such example, and I repeat it today: “Give me a single example, before this war where you accuse us (once again of serving foreign interests), to support this accusation, where we did anything that is contrary to national interests.”

We are a large political force –at the national level; Lebanon is a small country, but I am speaking in relative terms. I claim that Hezbollah is Lebanon’s largest political party. And in terms of military force, the question does not even need to be asked: the main today is the Resistance (Hezbollah). As for popular support, the question does not need to be asked either: I say that Hezbollah is the largest popular movement in Lebanon. But this political, military, massive and popular force, tell me how we benefited from it in Lebanon, even for our party interests, or even with regard to the interests of the sect (Shiite) to which we belong, because of the sectarian constitution of the country. Never have we served our own interests in anything. We have always made concessions in the national interest. As Hezbollah or masses supporting the Resistance, I do not need to defend myself regarding the defense of the national interest.

I say today that we lead the war of national interest because Israel wants to humiliate and subjugate Lebanon and take control of it. And if Israel wins this war, any government that will be formed in Lebanon will have to obtain the agreement of Olmert and the Israeli Mossad. It will no longer need to obtain the approval of the US ambassador, the French ambassador and the British ambassador only, there will be a 4th person who will have to agree regarding the electoral law, the formation of the government, the new President of the Republic, etc., etc., etc., and I mean Olmert.

I categorically reject any accusation of this nature, and affirm that the aim of these accusations is to deny the Resistance its humanity, ethics, patriotism and jihad (defensive war). People know me –let me emphasize this last point. People know me well. Today… In general, I do not like to talk about myself. Today, before civilian homes got destroyed, it is the homes of Hezbollah commanders and executives who were destroyed. Cite me one of my brothers (Hezbollah leaders) known whose house was not destroyed. Today, the families of Hezbollah cadres are refugees, like all refugees. So with regard to the price, it is mainly we who pay it (because our families and property are targeted in priority). Today, our children, our families, our relatives, our loved and beloved ones are on the battlefield. Nobody is hiding nowhere. The whole of Hezbollah is engaged in the war. All the masses of Hezbollah are engaged in war.

Are we, me and my brothers, crazy to the point of sacrificing our lives, our families, our honorable masses, our children and loved ones to get Syria back to Lebanon? Or to delay the action of the STL? Or for the Iranian nuclear issue? Who can utter such nonsense? It is insulting, really insulting, in every sense of the word insult. It is an affront to our patriotism, our commitment.

Yes, we are friends of Syria and friends of Iran. But for 24 years, we have benefited from our friendship with Syria and with Iran only for the sake of Lebanon. There are other people who have taken advantage of their friendship with Syria for their seat

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