In an address marking the 12th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War on Aug. 14, Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah described how he perceived the confrontation with Israel. Hezbollah’s “victory” in the Second Lebanon War, Nasrallah claimed, achieved complete deterrence against Israel. Prior to 2006, Israel attacked Lebanon freely and at will even when there was no cause for attack. Israeli aerial attacks targeted southern Lebanon, the Beqaa Valley, northern Lebanon and the capital of Beirut. This is no longer the status quo, declared Nasrallah, due to the new reality that Hezbollah set for Israel.
In light of Hezbollah’s military buildup, of which Israel is well-aware, Nasrallah stressed that Israel’s threat assessment takes into account the damage to its own gas, electric and oil facilities.
For the first time, Nasrallah noted, Israel’s military training is based on defending itself against Lebanon and not merely on offensive attacks into Lebanese territory. According to Nasrallah, Israel has never been on the defensive in a war with Lebanon before. Israel’s military training efforts are now invested every year in southern Lebanon and northern Israel in defense tactics designed to prevent the occupation of the Galilee.
Nasrallah noted Israel’s failed attempts to topple the Syrian regime. He claimed that Israeli assessments that the Syrian army would collapse, followed by the Assad regime, have been disproven.
To the same extent, Nasrallah stated that “the Israeli efforts to obtain recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights have failed.” In light of the international reality, Nasrallah declared that this aspiration stands no chance. The United States may have given Israel a promise in this regard, but the international community will reject it, concluded Nasrallah.
Hezb0llah and Iran will stay in Syria
According to Nasrallah, the Israeli demand to remove Hezbollah and Iran from Syria is futile and will fail. Nasrallah ridiculed the dissemination of news and analyses in the media that claim Hezbollah is about to withdraw from Syria, and that Nasrallah himself is about to announce the withdrawal of Hezbollah forces from Syria.
“What reality do you live in?” asked Nasrallah. “Who feeds you such misinformation and ridicules you? … Israel, defeated by Syria, cannot lay down conditions …. To whom are you dictating conditions? To the victorious leadership of Syria? To Iran? To Hezbollah?”
Nasrallah also stated that Israel failed in its confrontation with the Palestinians. He declared that all attempts to starve Gaza and force its surrender have failed, and now Israel is begging for an agreement with Gaza.
Nasrallah stressed that Lebanon rejects all attempts by Israel to resolve the demarcation of the maritime and land border with Lebanon in order to gain oil and gas fields.
Nasrallah boasted that Hezbollah’s strength exceeds Israel’s military might and that Israel no longer has the freedom to act in Lebanon. Instead, it is currently preparing its army for the next confrontation against Hezbollah’s threat to capture the Galilee.
Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira is a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He served as Military Secretary to the Prime Minister and as Israel Foreign Ministry chief of staff. He edited the Jerusalem Center eBook Iran: From Regional Challenge to Global Threat.