Israeli Military Spokesman: Gaza Needs New Leadership to Keep Hamas Out

Hezbollah supporters watching a speech given by the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, in Dahiyeh, Lebanon, on Wednesday.Credit…Bilal Hussein/Associated Press

After days of intensified clashes between Hezbollah and Israel, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese militia, warned on Wednesday that “there will be no place safe from our missiles and our drones” if all-out war breaks out. He also threatened Cyprus if it allows Israel to use its airports and bases in a full-scale conflict.

“The enemy knows very well that we have prepared ourselves for the most difficult days, and the enemy knows what it will face,” Mr. Nasrallah said. “If war is imposed, the resistance will fight without constraints, rules, or limits.”

In his first public remarks amid the recent flare-up of violence along Lebanon’s border with Israel, Mr. Nasrallah said that Hezbollah, which is tightly allied with Iran, did not want a wider conflict but emphasized that the group was ready for war and had so far used only a fraction of its weapons. If needed, Mr. Nasrallah said, Hezbollah could unleash them on “a bank of targets” in precision strikes.

“The enemy knows it must expect us on land, in the air, and at sea,” he said.

Ever since Hezbollah began trading fire with Israeli forces in the wake of the Hamas-led assault on Israel on Oct. 7, over 100 civilians in Israel and Lebanon have been killed, and more than 150,000 have been displaced from their homes. But the cross-border fighting in recent weeks has been among the fiercest yet, raising fears of another front in the war as Israel presses ahead with its offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Western diplomats have tried to lower the temperature, meeting with Lebanese and Israeli officials to head off a full-fledged war, but on Tuesday the Israeli military said it had approved operational plans for a potential offensive in Lebanon, without specifying when or if the plans would be used. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978, 1982 and 2006, each time to push back militants who attacked across the border.

An Israeli police officer checks the impact site of a rocket fired from Lebanon on Wednesday, in Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel.Credit…Ayal Margolin/Reuters

Hezbollah released drone footage on Tuesday that showed surveillance of strategic sites in Israel, including the port of Haifa, a thinly veiled threat. Mr. Nasrallah also threatened Cyprus for the first time on Wednesday, accusing it of allowing Israel to use its airports and bases for military exercises and saying Hezbollah would consider it “a part of the war” if Cyprus permitted the Israeli military to use infrastructure in the country amid a full-scale conflict.

Cyprus and Israel have a bilateral defense agreement that has seen the countries conduct joint exercises in the past.

“Opening Cypriot airports and bases to the Israeli enemy to target Lebanon means that the Cypriot government is part of the war, and the resistance will deal with it as part of the war,” Mr. Nasrallah said.

Israeli officials have increasingly threatened stronger action against Hezbollah, prompting President Biden to dispatch one of his senior aides, Amos Hochstein, to Israel and Lebanon earlier this week to press for a diplomatic settlement.

But Mr. Nasrallah repeated on Wednesday that only a permanent cease-fire in Gaza would bring about peace along the Lebanese-Israeli border. Neither Israeli threats nor warnings by Western mediators, he said, would deter Hezbollah’s will to fight.

“We are ready for anything,” said Mr. Nasrallah, as crowds in Beirut’s southern suburbs watching his speech erupted into applause.

Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut.

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