BEIRUT: Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned “Israel” on Tuesday against launching another war on Lebanon, saying any attempt to attack the country “will be faced with a colossal surprise likely to change the fate of the war and the region.” “You might say I am exercising a war of nerves … This is true yet my war of nerves is based on truthful facts and aims at avoiding any war,” Nasrallah told a massive rally in a televised address.
Tens of thousands of Hizbullah supporters flocked to the Raya pitch in the southern suburbs of Beirut to celebrate the “divine victory” over “Israel” during the 34-day war last year.
Final preparations for the event continued until late Monday night when thousands of chairs were being spread across the field. Several giant screens were set up at the field`s corners, to allow the attendants a full view of Nasrallah.
Hizbullah Secretary General added “The Zionists and the US government are beating the drums of war. God willing there will not be a war. As I have said in previous speeches, we do not want war”.
“If, God forbid, war happens, we must be ready,” Nasrallah said, adding that his remark last month that the resistance`s missiles were capable of hitting any spot in the occupied territories was designed as a deterrent and not to bring on a conflict.
“Readiness for war and preparedness for war is the most important means to prevent war,” he said.
While Nasrallah`s address focused on the outcomes and repercussions of the summer 2006 war, domestic issues occupied a small portion of his 90-minute speech.
Nasrallah said he is interested in achieving a balance of power with “Israel”, and therefore decided to declare that Hizbullah has the capability to strike anywhere in “Israel”.
“I said that in order to prevent a war,” he said, adding that “Israel” must “understand that any war on Lebanon will have a very high price.”
The Hizbullah chief also said that “Israel” and the U.S. made false accusations about Hizbullah and tried to divide the Lebanese people to justify last summer`s war.
Nasrallah said the United States and “Israel” tried to split the Lebanese along sectarian lines and to describe Hizbullah as a terrorist group in order to weaken it during the 34-day war.
“They [America and “Israel”] wanted to tear us apart. They wanted to use war to isolate us one country after the other, one people after the other, one sect after the other and one party after the other, Nasrallah told a mass rally in Beirut`s southern suburbs, a Hizbullah stronghold that was heavily bombed by “Israeli” forces during last year`s war.
“When we are divided, they will win and we will be defeated,” he said. The rally was organized by the Shiite Muslim group to mark the first anniversary of the war`s end, which Hizbullah says it won and calls a divine victory.
The cease-fire that brought the 33-day conflict to an end took effect exactly one year ago, on August 14, 2007.
Nasrallah did not personally attend the rally. His speech was relayed to the crowd on giant screens set up in a stadium and on top of buildings in the southern suburbs.
“They told [the Lebanese] that Hizbullah is an Iranian and Syrian tool,” Nasrallah said.
“The most serious accusation was the sectarian issue. They told the Christians that the fighting was with a Muslim group and that it has nothing to do with you. They told Sunni Muslims that the fighting was with a Shiite group and was targeting the Shiite project [in the region],” Nasrallah said.
Tens of thousands of people attended the rally, carrying pictures of Nasrallah and placards that read “August 14 – the day of victory over the Zionist regime.”
“For us he [Nasrallah] is the hero and with his wisdom and military tactics he made this victory,” a man carrying Hizbullah`s yellow flag said.
The Sayyed said his group supported mediation efforts to be undertaken by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in the upcoming week in a bid to reach a solution to the ten-month-old political impasse.
“We support a compromise in Lebanon and we warn the Lebanese against attempts undertaken by the United States and some Lebanese politicians to hamper any resolutions to the crisis,” he said.
Nasrallah was referring to statements made on Saturday by MP Walid Jumblatt, who said that anyone who thinks of reaching a compromise or a settlement with the opposition would be considered a traitor and would be “condemned morally and politically.”
Nasrallah renewed his support for the Lebanese Army, saying the US rejected the concept of having a “strong army in Lebanon capable of protecting its land and people before our army stops considering “Israel” as an enemy.”
“The resistance along with the army and the courageous people of Lebanon will achieve a victory every time,” he said.
Nasrallah also accused the US and “Israel” of being terrorist countries, which “throw terrorism accusations, when they never succeeded in defining to us what the true meaning of terrorism is.”
Nasrallah has not made any public appearances in political rallies since the victory rally on September 22, 2006.
He dedicate the victory in the summer 2006 war, “to all those oppressed in the world.”
“Our victory acted as a ray of light to all those people in the world who are oppressed and alienated and encouraged them to seek change,” he added.
Nasrallah addressed the Arabs, rather than their leaders, and thanked them for their “moral support” during the war. “We did not ask for more,” he added. Journalists and artists from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab countries attended the rally.
“We should all realize that had the resistance lost the war, not only Lebanon, Syria and Palestine would have suffered from the negative repercussions but also Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.”
Directly after Nasrallah finished his speech, gunshots and fireworks were heard all across the capital.
Also commenting on the occasion, Hizbullah`s major ally in the opposition, Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader Michel Aoun, said Lebanon`s victory over “Israel” during the summer 2006 war, “held valuable meanings.”
“Unfortunately,” Aoun`s Tuesday statement said, “internal skirmishes curtailed such a historical victory and this is only indicative of a very low sense of nationalism.”
Aoun said that the memorandum of understanding between the FPM and Hizbullah has grown more solid since it was forged.
He added that the memorandum has “shaped a clear-cut proposal for Lebanon`s future and offered a reliable means to shift Lebanon`s identity from a sectarian one to a citizenship one.”
Nasrallah has not appeared in public since September 22, 2006, when he made a speech in the same neighbourhood to proclaim victory following the ceasefire agreement.
“Israel`s” war with Hizbullah resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 Lebanese civilians, a third of them children, and 160 “Israelis”, mostly soldiers.
“Israeli” air raids on Lebanon destroyed more than 25,000 homes and 50,000 other buildings, notably in the country`s south, by the time the ceasefire was agreed.
“Israel” failed in both its stated aims for its campaign against Hizbullah – namely to stop rocket fire on northern “Israel” and to recover two soldiers captured by Hizbullah in a cross-border raid.