Hezbollah deputy secretary-general Naim Qassem stressed that Hezbollah intends to “remain in a state of defense,” but would make Israel “see stars” if it attacks the Lebanese terrorist group, in an interview with Al-Mayadeen on Wednesday night.
“Hezbollah clearly declares that it has no intention of starting a war,” said Qassem.
“Israel must understand that the arena is not open to it, and today the battle will be within the Israeli entity,” added Qassem.
Referring to a Hezbollah terrorist who was killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Damascus last July, Qassem warned that “when they attacked a brother of ours in Syria, we decided that we will respond to this attack, and the [decision to] respond is still in place,” according to Al-Mayadeen.
In a visit to the IDF’s 91st Division located in Northern Israel last week, Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz warned that “If Nasrallah and Hezbollah’s threats become actions, the outcome will be painful for Hezbollah and its leaders. And unfortunately for the Lebanese people, who are being used as human shields by Nasrallah – who is hiding weapons and missiles beneath their homes.”
Israel’s northern border has been tense since the incident amid continued threats by Hezbollah to carry out a revenge attack against Israel in response to the death.
Regarding the explosion at the Beirut Port, Qassem stated that the investigation is ongoing and is trying to determine whether the incident was caused by an act of sabotage, errors or an Israeli attack.
Qassem added that investigations conducted by the US, France and Germany that were leaked found “mistakes committed, not an intentional criminal act.” The Hezbollah official demanded that the investigations be revealed so that families can receive compensation from insurance companies and stressed that it’s not Hezbollah’s job to announce the results of the investigation, but rather the job of the judiciary and concerned authorities.
Qassem added that “there is a group of Lebanese politicians whose primary job is to link any incident directly to Hezbollah to discredit it,” according to Al-Mayadeen.
The Hezbollah official also rejected calls for neutrality and the disarmament of Hezbollah, stating that it was an “American directive” and that “internationalization is wrong, neutrality is not viable, and the subject of undermining the weapons of the resistance is a weakening of Lebanon.”
The huge explosion in a port warehouse district near the center of Beirut killed dozens, injured over 4,000 others and sent shockwaves across the Lebanese capital in August, shattering windows and causing some buildings to collapse.
Israeli officials have pointed the finger at Hezbollah, stressing that they’ve been warning for years that Hezbollah has been storing weapons at the port, but Hezbollah has denied any connection to the incident, with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah stating that “We know more about the port of Haifa than the port of Beirut.”
Cody Levine and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.