Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah declared in a live televised speech at an event on Thursday marking the death of the group’s commander Mustafa Bedreddine, that the next war with Israel could be fought inside Israeli territory, what he referred to as “the occupied Palestinian territories.”
“Israel has been threatening for 10 years to open a front against Hezbollah but it hasn’t done anything,” Nasrallah said. “Israel is afraid of any confrontation because it could take place within its territory.”
Nasrsallah also said the group is dismantling all of its military positions along Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria, and declared the area to be the “responsibility of the Lebanese state.”
He also said Hezbollah is “ready to guarantee a settlement” agreement for Sunni jihadists to evacuate Lebanon’s northeastern border region with Syria, but did not name any specific group.
Nasrallah said the Syrian civil war has entered a “new and critical phase” but did not elaborate. The terrorist chief noted, however, that Syria’s military allies – his own group, along with Hezbollah’s patron, Iran, and Russia, are today ‘in harmony’ more than ever.
Such an alliance, and the calm along Lebanon’s eastern border, underlines Hezbollah’s efforts towards building its status as a full-fledged military force, rather than a terror group.
Top officials in the Israel Defense Force have long since stopped dealing with Hezbollah as a simple terrorist group; analyses have shown Nasrallah may indeed attempt to invade the Galilee and capture at least one town in northern Israel, or several.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been discussing with U.S. and Russian officials the establishment of “safe zones” within Syria, to buffer Israel and Jordan from terrorist and military threats launched from Syria.