Hezbollah chief says only Gaza ceasefire will end Lebanon border attacks

Cross-border shelling into Israel will only end when Israel’s ‘aggression’ on Gaza stops, Hassan Nasrallah says.

Supporters of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group raise their fists and cheer, as they listen to a speech by Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah who appears via a video link, during a rally to mark "wounded resistant's day," in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. Nasrallah said his group is committed to a ceasefire in southern Lebanon after a settlement is reached in Gaza, but would continue attacks if Israel resumes. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Supporters of Hezbollah raise their fists and cheer, as they listen to a speech by Hassan Nasrallah who appears via a videolink, during a rally in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon [Hussein Malla/AP Photo]

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has said that his armed group’s cross-border shelling into Israel would only end when Israel’s “aggression” on the Gaza Strip stops, saying diplomatic efforts so far to bring a halt to hostilities along Lebanon’s border seemed to only benefit Israel.

The Lebanese armed group has been trading fire with the Israeli military across Lebanon’s southern border in support of its Palestinian ally Hamas, which launched a cross-border assault from the Gaza Strip into Israel on October 7 that met heavy Israeli bombardment by land, air and sea.

Nasrallah said on Tuesday his group would only stop its exchanges of fire if a full ceasefire was reached for Gaza.

“On that day, when the shooting stops in Gaza, we will stop the shooting in the south,” he said in a televised address.

There are growing fears of another full-blown conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, with tens of thousands displaced on both sides of the border and regional tensions soaring.

Late last month, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israeli troops would “very soon go into action” near the country’s northern border with Lebanon.

Recent weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity in Beirut, with foreign ministers including from Germany, France and the United Kingdom visiting in efforts to dial down tensions.

Nasrallah said many foreign “delegations” had travelled to Beirut with “proposals” to end hostilities in southern Lebanon, but said they only seemed to “have one goal, which is: the security of Israel, the protection of Israel”.

France’s foreign minister delivered a written proposal to Beirut that calls for fighters including Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit to withdraw 10km (six miles) from the border, among other measures, the Reuters news agency reported, citing a document.

Without specifying the French proposal, Nasrallah said one delegation had “presented a paper as a mediator”.

“You read the paper – there’s nothing. There’s Israel’s security,” he said.

“Let nobody think Lebanon is weak and afraid, or that they can impose conditions” including over the withdrawal of Hezbollah fighters, Nasrallah said.

He added that if Israel widened the war further in Lebanon, his group would do the same.

He warned that if Israel decided to wage war on Lebanon, those displaced from northern Israel “will not return” and Israeli officials should “prepare shelters, hotels, schools and tents for two million people” who would be displaced.

Last week, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz warned that “time is running out” to reach a diplomatic solution in southern Lebanon.

“Israel will act militarily to return the evacuated citizens” to its northern border area if no diplomatic solution is reached, he said.

The cross-border shelling has killed about 200 people in Lebanon, including more than 170 Hezbollah fighters, as well as 10 Israeli troops and five Israeli civilians.

Source: News Agencies