In an interview with New TV aired earlier tonight, Hassan Nasrallah in colloquial Lebanese claimed that the 12 July operation that Israel used as pretext to launch its war on Lebanon actually saved Lebanon from a worse scenario had the Jewish state carried out a planned war in October.
“Had they carried out their plan, we would not be here to talk about it,” Nasrallah told his veiled interviewer. This plan, which allegedly was still incomplete in July, sought to finish off Hizbullah in 48 hours through a surprise all-out assault on Hizbullah and its infrastructure, occupying a strip of land up to the Litani River and wide scale bombing of Hizbullah “houses” and positions.
The 12 July kidnapping of soldiers, Nasrallah claimed, cost Israel the element of surprise, leading to Israeli failure to destroy Hizbullah. “In October, they were planning to kill people while they slept, with their women and children,” said Nasrallah, who attempted to argue that the kidnapping of soldiers did the country a favor by sparing it a more severe devastation.
Nasrallah went on to assure us that Hizbullah survived the Israeli war nearly intact, with only few of his military officials killed, and none of the political cadres. The number of fighters or “mujahedeen” killed is still unknown to him. “I have not counted them yet,” he said. He cited Israeli generals in Israeli newspapers admitting failure, and singled out an article in Yediot Ahronot which apparently claimed the ceasefire saved the Israeli army from even a greater defeat.
“We fired less than 50% of our rockets….the blockade is useless… We are prepared for a long destructive war“, he said, adding that after 33 days, Israel was still fighting the same people on the first line of defense and that Hizbullah second line of defense was not engaged in combat. He said they were prepared for a wide scale operation thought they didn’t know it would take place on 12 July.
To absolve himself of any responsibility, Nasrallah cited Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker article to argue that Israel’s war had been pre-planned and it wasn’t about the prisoners. He said Israel would have created a pretext had they not kidnapped the soldiers, through one of their spy networks in the country. “A network like the (busted) Rafe’ network could have easily fired 7 katyusha rockets onto Israel and laid the blame on Hizbullah.”
So, in Nasrallah’s logic, their operation was used as a pretext for the war although Israel could have created one whenever they wished, and Nasrallah did the country a favor by costing Israel the element of surprise. Flawless logic!
And remember how Nasrallah claimed he did not know when the kidnapping would happen? Now he is saying the operation was planned 5-6 months prior, and that it was intended to be a “clean” operation with minimum casualties. But luck had it that two military vehicles showed up instead of one, and a tank drove on a landmine, causing soldiers to die.
Nasrallah said the decision was not only taken by him, but by 15 experienced members of Hizbullah who, with all their experience in dealing with the Israeli enemy, in-depth knowledge and studying of “the Israeli”, did not anticipate the Israeli reaction to be of this magnitude. In fact, Nasrallah said, in the history of wars, no state had ever launched a war on another state because of two captured soldiers.
“Had we known, would not have carried out this operation for moral, social and military reasons,” Nasrallah declared, conscience clear.
“All 15 of us did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not.”
What a disgrace. 15 people in Hizbullah took a country to war and their leader wants us to thank him for sparing us an even greater destruction and for the safekeeping of him and the other 14.
Only Nasrallah would say the above and then add: “We do not impose our ideas on anyone. Lebanon is a diverse country, it cannot be run as an Islamic Sunni, Islamic Shia, Christian Maronite or other country.”
He actually said Lebanon needs to be a state built on consensus.
Nasrallah tried to dispel fears that he is trying to establish an Islamic Shia state, calling these fears unfounded and aimed at instilling fear in Sunnis. “The people who say that receive instructions from the American Embassy,” he claimed.
And this is how Nasrallah chose to assure Lebanese people of his intentions:
“Our weapons are directed at Israel. Can we stage a military coup d’etat? Sure we can. But we have always said our weapons were directed at the enemy. We have never used our weapons against the Lebanese people… I address Christians and non-Shia: don’t let them instill fear of Hizbullah. There is no reason or logic for that. Do not be afraid of Hizbullah.”
“You say that while you’re holding a weapon,” the interviewer asked him.
“I hold the weapon to defend the country against Israel, who wants to steal the water, settle the Palestinians and run the country as part of the new Middle East. That is the function of the weapons,” answered Nasrallah, claiming Hizbullah does not want to hold on to the weapons forever, but that “some people want us to disarm and go to a European country and sit with Israel and tell them we forget… we forget our national pride…”
In response to a question about Hizbullah being a state within a state, Nasrallah chose to attack the state of Lebanon.
This “state”, he said, does not want to liberate land, does not want to liberate prisoners, does not want to provide education and food. What kind of state is that? He asked. “That people are still silent about this state is strange,” Nasrallah wondered. “We are asked to either die, or be shoe shiners… If we reject that, they accuse us of being a state within a state… If the state builds a hospital where we have schools and hospitals, we will shut ours down… Where the state is absent, we have to be present.”
Responding to criticism that his party was only concerned about rebuilding Shia homes and not, say, homes as well as bridges and roads in other areas, Nasrallah tried to explain: “We said [we would help] every family whose home was destroyed… we offered them a year’s rent and the cost of furniture, and to rebuild 15,000 housing units. We didn’t say we were helping Hizbullah, but every family, whether Christian, Sunni or Shia in all regions. As for bridges and other infrastructure, (he joked), give me the state and I’m ready!”
He said Hizbullah had to act fast and offer assistance because they (Hizbullah) knew the government would stall. “It took seven days for bulldozers to start working in the suburb to clear streets,” said, claiming that he heard that the government intended to keep the situation as is for weeks to turn people against Hizbullah.
“We also felt responsible for the people. I promised people their houses will be rebuilt. In two weeks, all families will be off the streets,” he said.
When asked about Ali al-Amin’s public opposition to Hizbullah (he is the Shia Mufti for Tyre and Jabal Amel), Nasrallah acknowledged that there is no consensus on the resistance within the Shia community, just like there is division on the issue in other sects. “The division is national and not sectarian”, he contended.
The speech was long and covered other areas, notably the prisoners issue (negotiations have apparently started), and Nasrallah’s alleged cooperation with the army, which he said has the natural right to confiscate any visible weapon. And given that Hizbullah does not put its weapons or fighters on display, the militia will not have to change anything. So, for Nasrallah, Hizbullah made no compromises.
“We will facilitate and support the work of the Lebanese army, and avoid any action that could cause embarrassment for it… we also don’t have a problem with UNIFIL since its mission is not to disarm the resistance.”
And “as long as there’s occupation, we have the right to resistance. We have been patient until now (in reference to Israeli violations), but that does not mean we will be patient down the line, we reserve the right, and we could apply it at any time. Consequently, I do not give anyone any assurances.”