Hezbollah’s leader, who has refrained from getting fully involved in the Hamas-Israel war so far, said Friday that the battle has spread to other fronts.
Hassan Nasrallah broke his month-long silence on its Palestinian ally’s war with Israel in a long-advertised televised speech on Friday, thanked “Iraqi and Yemeni hands” that have joined the battle. Houthis in Yemen have launched drone and missile against Israel that have so far failed to hit a target. Pro-Iran Iraqi militias have launched nearly 30 attacks against US forces in Syria and Iraq.
Hezbollah supporters also held gatherings in Beirut, where Lebanese watched Nasrallah’s first public address since Hamas went to war with Israel. In Tehran, the regime installed large screens at a main square to broadcast the speech live. Supporters of Iraqi Shiite armed groups also gathered in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square to watch the speech.
Nasrallah added that the decision to launch the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas was 100-percent a Palestinian decision.
Iran and Hezbollah have been accused of full involvement in the planning of the attack, with several public and secret joint meetings having been held since April in Beirut and Damascus.
“We are ready for all possibilities,” Nasrallah said.
Al-Aqsa Flood battle has extended to more than one front, he said, adding, “We thank the Iraqi, Yemeni hands that joined this battle.” However, he claimed that the decision for the attack was made by the Palestinian group and no other group of the resistance front – the term for Iran’s proxy militia – was aware of the operation.
Hezbollah have been escalating day by day, forcing Israel to keep its forces near the Lebanese border instead of the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, Nasrallah said in the televised address. “What’s happening on the border might seem modest but is very important.”
Defending the surprise attack, he said such a big victory makes it worth the high number of people who have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory fire because the October 7 attack changed the landscapes of the Middle Eastern conflicts. He also blamed the conflict and high Palestinian civilian death toll on the United States.
He said one of the biggest mistakes Israel is making now in its war against Hamas in Gaza is pursuing goals that it cannot achieve, referring to uprooting the Islamist group. “For a whole month, Israel could not offer a single military achievement,” Nasrallah claimed, adding that Israel can only get back hostages through negotiation.
Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with Israeli forces across the border since October 7, when Hamas — another Iran-funded militia – declared war on Israel in a multi-thronged attack terror codenamed al-Aqsa Flood (Storm in Persian) and killed over 1,400 Israelis and took over 230 hostages.
Iran has repeatedly threatened that the war will escalate to other fronts unless Israel halts its retaliatory offensive against Hamas in Gaza. In addition to sporadic clashes in the West Bank and multiple rocket and drone attacks against bases hosting US forces in Iraq and Syria, Hezbollah’s active engagement in the war can significantly change the landscape of the conflict. However, Hezbollah has not yet unleashed its large missile arsenal against Israel or tried any incursions.
According to the latest public estimates, Hezbollah has around 150,000 rockets and missiles, most with a reported range of a few dozen to hundreds of kilometers. On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Russia’s Wagner mercenary group plans to provide Hezbollah with an air defense system, foreshadowing planning for a looming war.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards founded Hezbollah in 1982, in the middle of Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war. It was part of Iran’s effort to export its 1979 Islamic Revolution around the region and fight Israeli forces after their 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
Hezbollah said Thursday that it had attacked an Israeli army position using explosive drones for the first time, prompting heavy Israeli shelling, escalating clashes at the frontier. The Israeli army said it was striking a series of Hezbollah targets in Lebanon following several launches towards Israel.
Also on Thursday, Samir Geagea, the leader of Lebanon’s biggest Christian party, the Lebanese Forces, called on Hezbollah to withdraw its forces from the south of the country, stating that “dragging us into the war would be a crime.”
As the conflict between Israel and Hamas reverberates across the Middle East, the risk of war between Hezbollah and Israel remains higher than at any point since their last big conflict in 2006. Reuters cited unnamed sources as saying that Hezbollah knows that Lebanon, with a struggling economy and a crumbling state, cannot afford another war between Hezbollah and Israel. “Hezbollah has no interest in war. Lebanon has no interest in war”, a source familiar with Hezbollah thinking said.