BEIRUT – Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has promised to start a “new phase” of conflict with Israel, saying that if the country attacks the group’s positions, all “Israeli borders and forces will be at risk”.
In a televised speech on Monday, the movement’s secretary general condemned the recent raids of Israeli drones in Lebanon, threatening to shoot down the next aircraft that violates the country’s airspace.
In what he described as a clear “message” to Israel, Nasrallah said the latest escalation of tensions marked the “beginning of a new phase” of a longstanding conflict with the Jewish state, adding that Hezbollah “broke the red lines,” promising to target Israel if the movement is attacked again.
The head of the organization further stated that “there is a new battlefield that is targeting Israeli drones in the skies of Lebanon,” in an apparent reference to the recent incident in which two alleged unmanned Israeli vehicles crashed near Beirut.
That statement comes a day after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah exchanged fire, with the latter launching numerous anti-tank missiles at Israeli positions, while Tel Aviv responded by firing more than 100 missiles at southern Lebanon.
The Lebanese-based Hezbollah leader’s statement comes amid a new wave of tensions with Israel that intensified on 25 August after Lebanese authorities said Israeli drones had invaded their airspace, colliding near the center of Hezbollah press and injuring three people.
Nasrallah swore that Hezbollah “would do everything to prevent” such attacks in the future, arguing that the time when Israel could bomb Lebanon was “over.”
In 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war when Israeli forces invaded Lebanon after the resistance group kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border attack.
The confrontation cost the lives of about 1,300 people and ended in a UN-mediated ceasefire, with the Israelis leaving Lebanon in shame.