Warnings And Praise — 6 Key Takeaways From Hezbollah Chief’s Fiery Speech
Here are six key points from Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah's long awaited speech, including a threat to Israel that it was a "realistic possibility" that the war along the Lebanese border is about to escalate.
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah spoke in Lebanon on Friday, making his first public remarks since the Israel-Hamas war erupted. He called the October 7 attacks on Israel a “great, blessed operation” and warned that it was “realistic” to expect escalation in attacks across the Lebanon-Israel border.
Nasrallah, who has led the militant group since 1992, is rarely seen in public. He spoke via video link from an undisclosed location, with his speech broadcast to a crowd of supporters in the suburbs of Beirut.
The speech comes amid escalating tensions between the Iran-backed armed group and Israel, sparking concern of a potential broader regional war.
Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamist movement with one of the most powerful paramilitary forces in the Middle East. The group, which has its main base near the Israel-Lebanon border, could spark a wider regional conflict. The Lebanese group has voiced support for Hamas' cause but not yet directly intervened on its behalf, linking its clashes with Israel to attacks on Lebanese soil.
Here are the key points from Nasrallah’s highly anticipated speech:
- Hamas acted alone on Oct. 7: Nasrallah addressed speculation about whether Iran-backed factions were part of the attacks, saying that the planning and execution of the attacks were "100 percent Palestinian”. He added that Hezbollah was not bothered that the operation was kept secret, saying he understood Hamas' need for the element of surprise.
- Escalation warning to Israel: Saying the attacks across the Israel border would “not be limited” to the scale seen until now, Nasrallah said Hezbollah’s intention was to tie down Israeli troops near Lebanon so they couldn’t be deployed in Gaza. He warned that further escalation in the north was a “realistic possibility,” even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hezbollah “they would pay dearly” with major attacks.
- Attacks exposed Israel’s military weakness: The Oct. 7 attacks exposed Israel’s military weaknesses and that the United States sending “fleets of warships” emphasizes Israel’s reliance on its allies.
- Gaza is Holy War: The Islamist leader made multiple references to the wider holy war against Israel, citing the “blessed” success of the Oct. 7 attack that killed 1,400 in southern Israel. He added that the lives lost in Gaza, the West Bank and other fronts were "worthy sacrifices" because they established a "historic new stage" in the regional conflict.
- Gaza ceasefire + Hamas victory: As Lebanese paper L’Orient le Jour reported, Nasrallah called for people to "work day and night" to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza, saying it is Hezbollah's "primary goal." He warned people “not to lose sight” of two short-term goals: ending the war in Gaza, and enabling the “resistance” in Gaza, including Hamas “to triumph.”
- U.S. has the power to stop the war: Nasrallah addressed the United States saying it had the power to stop the war. He went on to add that the threats the U.S. has made against Lebanese not to enter the conflict does not scare them. And that the country has prepared a response against them.
Antony Blinken wins no 'pause' in fighting on Israel trip
The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has urged Israel to do everything in its power to protect civilians caught in the fighting in Gaza and make sure they are able to receive humanitarian aid.
Blinken reiterated the U.S.’s unwavering support for Israel and its right to defend itself while on a visit to the country, but placed more emphasis than on his previous visits on the importance of protecting civilians amid growing alarm over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Gaza health officials say more than 9,000 people have been killed since Israel began its air and ground assault three weeks ago.
This is Blinken’s third trip to Israel since the war began and he also plans to visit Amman, Jordan. It follows President Joe Biden’s suggestion for a humanitarian “pause” in the fighting.
During his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday, Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israel will not agree to a pause in fighting unless it includes the release of hostages.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military is flying surveillance drones over Gaza as part of American efforts to help Israel locate the 240 hostages held by Hamas. The drones are part of a surge of intelligence assets sent to the region in the days and weeks following the October 7 attack.
President Gabriel Boric’s White House visit
Santiago-based daily La Tercera, dedicates its front page to Chilean President Gabriel Boric’s White House visit, where he told U.S. President Joe Biden that Israel’s actions were violating international law. Boric has condemned the Israeli military’s bombardment of Gaza and recalled his envoy to Israel. Read an America Economia piece from last year on Latin America’s resurgent but fractured political left, translated from Spanish by Worldcrunch.
Palestinian-Italian escapes Gaza on her sixth birthday
As Italian daily La Stampa reports: Friday is Minerva’s birthday. But instead of celebrating with her family in a southern Italian town, the six-year-old will be traveling home with her mother after a month-long nightmare. Minerva’s parents are both Palestinian, and she had gone with his mother to Gaza to visit family. Minerva’s father, also of Palestinian origins, stayed in Italy for work. After Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, and the border was shut to Gaza, Minerva and her mother were left trapped.
In the rare moments when she managed to recharge her cell phone and find a signal, Minerva’s mother would call her husband, Magd, and speak of the never-ending bombings. But by a twist of fate, Magd was awarded Italian citizenship on Oct. 9, only two days after the attack — which also made Minerva an Italian citizen.
But holding Italian passports wouldn’t be of help for a whole month, not until Rafah’s crossing was finally opened on Wednesday, and Minerva’s name was on the list of those allowed passage. Her mother and her finally stepped on a bus, reached Cairo, and were greeted by the Italian Embassy. Today is Minerva’s sixth birthday, and despite all odds, she will be spending it in safety, soon to return to her father.
- Hamas Is Fighting A Proxy War For Iran — That's Where The West Should Strike Back ›
- Will Israel Strike Iran As Revenge For Hamas Support? ›
- Will War Spill Over Into Lebanon? It's Up To Hezbollah — And That Means Iran ›