Summary recap: Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s speech went for just under one-and-a-half hours, and while full of threats and ultra-provocative heated words aimed at Israel and the United States, this was not a declaration of war speech. But he emphasized that Hezbollah’s full entry into war with Israel will be determined based on developing events in Gaza, and whether Israel halts its attacks on the Palestinian people. Shelling on the Israel-Lebanese border was reportedly ongoing through and by the end of the speech in Beirut (Nasrallah addressed his top officers via remote feed from a secure location). Some highlights from Nasrallah’s speech…
All “Options” on the table
“I assure you all options are open on the southern front. They can be adopted anytime,” he said. “I assure you it will not be the end, this is not sufficient.”
“If you wish to steer away from a regional war, you must end the war on Gaza. This front will develop according to developments in Gaza.”
“If Israel strikes Lebanon it will be the most foolish act in all of Israel’s existence.”
US sent message to Hezbollah, warning its ships & planes will attack
Nasrallah related that Hezbollah was warned soon after Oct.7 that US ships and war planes positioned in the Mediterranean would bombard southern Lebanon if Hezbollah fighters escalate attacks on Israel.
But Nasrallah said, “We will continue to infiltrate” and that Hezbollah’s calculus will be “a civilian for a civilian” – meaning that attacks from southern Lebanon will be determined based on the intensity of Israel’s attacks on Palestinians.
On prospect of major regional war
“To the Americans I say, focusing your threats on Hezbollah and the region are pointless,” Nasrallah said. The US said it “would not only attack Lebanon but will attack Iran.”
“Your fleets in the Mediterranean do not and will not cause us to fear. We have prepared for your fleet what it takes. You Americans remember your defeats from Lebanon (early 80s), Iraq, and Afghanistan… your humiliating retreat from Afghanistan. He praised the recent attacks by Iraqi Shia militias against US based in the region.
“If an all out war erupts your fleet will be no good, your warplanes will be pointless, you will pay a heavy price.”
Do not expect a direct declaration of war by Nasrallah. That is not his style. He wants no one in Lebanon to blame him when the war escalates
But it will escalate, and Hezbollah will go to the next stage.
— Syrian Girl 🇸🇾🎗 (@Partisangirl) November 3, 2023
America oversees aggression on Gaza, and can stop it
“Only you Americans can end what is happening now in Gaza, since you started it. The only factor that will affect our position is the progression of the war.” US is “directly responsible”.
“I tell Israel: Do not go any further. Many civilians have already died. I promise you: A civilian for a civilian.”
Hezbollah attacks have forced Israel to pull military assets
At one point in the speech he laid out that Hezbollah’s daily missiles and shelling of northern Israel (which have remained limited) have served to force Israel to deploy up to one-third of its military hardware and assets to its northern border.
Nasrallah explained that in doing so, Israel is not prevented from focusing its full firepower on attacking “resistance factions” (Hamas and PIJ) in Gaza.
And more notes from the speech via Bloomberg:
- “We have to be ready and present for all future probabilities”
- Says attacks on Israel near Lebanon borders “is very big from our side and very important and it won’t be enough for us anyway”
- Says the group is aware it’s taking a risk in the daily border attacks against Israel
- He says Israel forced to deploy heavily on the border with Lebanon, taking away from its fight in Gaza
- Says Oct. 7 attack on Israel was purely Palestinian decision and execution and “no one knew” about Hamas plan
- Says the US is “directly responsible” for Israel attacks on Gaza
- Says Israel will fail in wiping out Hamas as it failed in 2006 with its aim to wipe out Hezbollah
- Praises “martyrs” in Lebanon and elsewhere who were killed in fighting against Israel since the conflict began
- Says dying in fight against Israel is “greatest of all”
- “Just watch how a fighter advances and places rocket on an Israeli tank. How can they defeat this land and these type of fighters?”
- Says previous and future sacrifices in Gaza, West Bank and all fronts are worth it
- Says Hamas attack showed Israel’s vulnerability and weakness strategically and militarily to the point that the US sent its ships to the Mediterranean at the onset of the attack
🚨🇮🇱🇱🇧 Hezbollah’s Nasrallah finished his speech by stating: “ALL OPTIONS are on the table on the Lebanese front.” pic.twitter.com/vymkbTLpZM
— Jackson Hinkle 🇺🇸 (@jacksonhinklle) November 3, 2023
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At 3 p.m. Lebanon time (9am ET), the leader of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah will give his first speech since the war between Israel and Hamas began, at a moment Israel is on a very high state of alert along its northern border.
Secretrary-General Nasrallah’s speech could prove a turning point in the whole conflict depending on whether he tells his many tens of thousands of hardline Shia troops that a full war front will be opened against Israel. Will broader regional war kick off? Watch the speech live from Beirut:
The US, Israel, and various Lebanese political factions have warned and urged Iran-backed Hezbollah not to escalate the conflict with Israel. Further Israeli officials have warned of military strikes on Hezbollah’s key backers in Damascus and Iran should it escalate the war along Israel’s northern border.