Hezbollah's Nasrallah: Attacks on American targets will cease only if Gaza war stops

Address comes amid intensified violence despite Mr Nasrallah ruling out wider conflict in previous speech

Hezbollah supporters raise their hands as they listen to a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. EPA
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Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that only the US could stop the war in Gaza, in his second address since the start of the conflict on October 7.

“Those who can stop this aggression are the ones leading it. It is the Americans,” he said, on the occasion of Martyrs' Day, an annual commemoration by the Iran-backed militia, amid growing fears that the war in the Gaza Strip would kick off a regional conflagration.

“The party that is managing this battle and fighting it is the American, and all condemnation and denunciation must be directed to the American administration because it is the first and last decision maker,” he added.

Mr Nasrallah also praised recent attacks of Iran's proxies in Yemen and Iraq, which sparked fears of a regional conflagration. “If the Americans want these operations against them to stop (in Iraq and Syria), they must stop the aggression on Gaza,” he said.

“Yemen leadership has taken a courageous decision, this threat obliged the Israeli enemy to divert part of its air defence(..) from northern Lebanon and northern Palestine to the Eilat area”, he said, while also praising attacks on US bases by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq. “What the Iraqi resistance has done and is doing reflects high courage because they are fighting the Americans”.

A 'front of pressure'

Regarding the Lebanese front, Mr Nasrallah said that it will “remain hopefully a front of pressure”.

Since October 8, the war has spilt over into south Lebanon with armed groups, led by Iran-backed Hezbollah, exchanging fire with Israel in support of their ally Hamas, which controls the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The violence has claimed at least 90 lives on the Lebanese side, according to an AFP tally, with 72 Hezbollah fighters and 14 civilians among the casualties.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday warned Mr Nasrallah, that if he “makes a mistake, Hezbollah and Lebanon will bear the consequences”.

“Day by day we look, evaluate and decide,” he said. There has been concerns that the continuing violence might escalate into a broader confrontation, but both parties have exhibited a degree of restraint in their retaliatory actions.

In a long-awaited speech on November 3, Mr Nasrallah had ruled out an all-out conflict in Lebanon, calling for a ceasefire. But violence in the south has intensified, killing civilians, including three schoolgirls in an Israeli air strike on Sunday. On the same day, an anti-tank guided missile launched by Hezbollah killed an Israeli civilian.

In his speech, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah said that Hezbollah had targeted Israeli civilians in past days in response to Israel targeting Lebanese civilians.

He stressed that there was an “upwards rise in the Resistance work”.

He said there was a “quantitative increase in volume of operations and also the level of weapons used, notably the Burkan missile carrying a payload between 300kg and 500kg. Imagine half a ton of explosives falling on the enemy's head.”

“In terms of depth, there is also an improvement, especially when we retaliated with drones and Katioucha-type rockets, the response went even deeper,” he added.

“Today we reveal the daily introduction of reconnaissance drones to the north of occupied Palestine, some of which reached Haifa, Acre and Safed. Every day we send one or two or even three,” he said.

The day before the speech, Hezbollah's “media warfare” unit released a video titled “This is just some of our strength, and it will not stop at that”, featuring footage of fighting and showcasing weapons, with excerpts from Mr Nasrallah's previous, speech, in an apparent demonstration of strength.

Escalation of violence

There was reports of multiple rounds of shelling in south Lebanon throughout Saturday.

Earlier in the morning Israeli warplanes targeted a lorry in Zahrani, south of Lebanon, 40 kilometres from the border, one of the furthest strikes inland, while Hezbollah said it targeted an Israeli barracks, causing casualties.

In response to a possible drone attack against the small city of Kiryat Shmona, Israel bombed several border towns in Lebanon.

For the first time on Friday, an Israeli strike hit the government hospital in Mays Al Jabal. The unexploded missile damaged the emergency department and injured a doctor.

Lebanon's Health Ministry held the “Israeli authorities fully responsible for this unjustifiable act, which would have led to catastrophic results had the artillery shell targeting the hospital exploded” and called for “a thorough and fair investigation”.

The same day, Hezbollah reported that Israeli fire killed seven of its fighters.

Mr Nasrallah’s speech coincided with an emergency Arab summit in Riyadh to press the United States and Israel to end the war in Gaza, which ended with a call for an arms embargo against Israel after three days of talks

Updated: November 12, 2023, 10:12 AM