Is Hezbollah’s No.2 trying to challenge Israel to attack Lebanon?
February 4, 2019
Hezbollah’s deputy secretary-general challenged Israel in an interview on Lebanese TV on Sunday by saying it is not ready for a confrontation with Lebanon .
Naim Qassem who is known as No 2 ( No. 1 being Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah ) said that “Lebanon’s new government is a unity government,” and that only 3 of its government ministers are members of the Hezbollah organization.
Qassem was responding to comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who claimed that Iran-backed Hezbollah now controls Lebanon government and vowed to stop all acts of aggression from Lebanon , Syria or Iran.
“Hezbollah joined the Lebanese government, and now it controls the government, and thus Iran controls it,” Netanyahu said while briefing a delegation of United Nations leaders, just before they headed to Israel’s northern border to inspect one of Hezbollah’s cross-border attack tunnels. The delegation is in Israel on a mission headed by Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon.
Netanyahu then spoke about Operation Northern Shield, which ended three weeks ago: “Just as we stopped the tunnels, we will stop all acts of aggression from Lebanon, Syria or Iran.”
He said that the Hezbollah’s tunnels are a “flagrant violation of international law… The very fact that you arrived in Israel attests to your integrity. I hope that this will also characterize your future actions in the UN, which only last year pushed forth 20 resolutions against Israel, while only six against other countries, including Syria, Iran and Sudan.
“What matters is not only that you see the truth, but also that you tell it,” he continued. “We want to see you change your decisions.”
Last week, Hezbollah chief spoke out for the first time since Operation Northern Shield in a public interview with the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen station,
Nasrallah said he made a strategic decision not to speak up until the end of Israel’s campaign against the tunnels, some of which stretched from Lebanon into Israeli territory.
He refused to accept responsibility for the construction of the tunnels between Lebanon and Israel: “The tunnels exist, they may be old or new, but it does not matter who dug them.”
In a televised speech today Nasrallah also denied that Hezbollah controls the new Lebanese government.
“The government is the government of all those taking part in it.” He said.
“Saying that the government is Hezbollah’s government is a wrong description. Ethically, this is a lie and the right description is that this government is comprised of a group of political forces in Lebanon among them Hezbollah”.
Commenting on US warning that Hezbollah could divert funding from the health ministry which it now controls he said.
“We don’t want projects, business or anything and we don’t want to be accused of anything, seeing us our primal concern is humanitaria
Nasrallah added : The money of the Lebanese state belongs to the state and there is a legal responsibility towards this money in addition to the ethical responsibility, because the minister and the ministry are entrusted with this money.
Nasrallah went on to say : “The health minister is for all Lebanese and all regions and so is the health ministry.” .