HEZBOLLAH deputy secretary general says there is nowhere in Israel outside the range of the Lebanese resistance movement’s missiles. ‘There is not a single point in the occupied territories out of reach of Hezbollah’s missiles,’ Sheikh Naim Qassem told Tehran-based al-Vefagh newspaper in remarks published on Sunday.
Israel has launched a series of operations along the Lebanese border, and an Israeli minister has hinted at possible incursion into Lebanon in order to destroy what the regime claims are Hezbollah tunnels. An Israeli incursion into Lebanon would likely spark a major confrontation with Hezbollah. The Lebanese resistance movement has warned that Israel would ‘regret’ invading Lebanon.
‘The Zionists cannot tolerate such a high level of threats in confrontation with Hezbollah, which is why they have no motive for entering another war with Lebanon,’ Qassem said. He said the Lebanese resistance movement has built such a deterrence which has prevented Israel from taking any action against Lebanon since 2006.
‘Even when they threaten they say, “If Hezbollah attacks us” they will react, because the rules of engagement created in Lebanon by Hezbollah have made it very difficult for Israel to even consider launching a war against Lebanon,’ he said.
Last week, Israel launched ‘Operation Northern Shield’ to uncover and destroy what it claimed are tunnels dug by Hezbollah into the occupied territory. Intelligence and transport minister Israel Katz said last Friday that Israeli forces may need to go into Lebanon to deal with the alleged tunnels.
Israel has waged two wars against Lebanon in 2000 and 2006. It was forced to withdraw on both occasions in the face of Hezbollah’s resistance, despite inflicting severe damage on Lebanon’s infrastructure.
Qassem also said the Palestinian resistance has made Israel face a ‘new equation.’
Last month, a botched Israeli intelligence operation in the Gaza Strip unleashed brief skirmishes after which Tel Aviv accepted a ceasefire after about 500 rockets were fired from the besieged territory at Israeli in a matter of several hours.
Qassem further said the situation on the ground in Syria is improving day by day, where victories achieved by the Syrian Army and its allies are quite visible now.
He said a political solution has to be found to the crisis but the United States is preventing it through its military operations in the Arab country and supporting certain militant groups.
• Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has marked the 31st anniversary of the first Intifada with pledges to continue the ‘armed struggle’ and rebuked Arab leaders for seeking to normalise ties with Israel. ‘Armed struggle is a strategic option to safeguard the Palestinian cause and restore Palestinian national rights,’ Hamas said in a statement issued on Saturday.
The first Intifada broke out in 1987 after four young Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in Gaza as well as the shooting death of a 17-year-old boy during an unarmed protest. Intifada is an Arabic word that literally translates to ‘shaking off.’ It has been used to refer to legitimate means of resistance against oppression across the Middle East for decades.
In the Arab-Israeli conflict, it means a concerted Palestinian effort to shake off Israeli occupation and gain independence. In its statement on Saturday, Hamas said ‘resistance is a legitimate right guaranteed by international laws and conventions.’ It said 31 years after the eruption of the uprising, which is also known as the stone Intifada, Palestinians are still in need of unity, partnership and the reconstruction of their national project.
The second Intifada began in 2000 and was known as the al-Aqsa Intifada. It was sparked by former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque complex. A US draft resolution to condemn the Hamas resistance movement at the UN failed to gain a majority vote.
The anniversary comes amid worldwide outrage over the US relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds from Tel Aviv and the recognition of the city as the so-called capital of Israel. Israel annexed East al-Quds in the 1967 Six Day war in a move never internationally recognised. The occupying regime claims the entire city as its capital. Palestinians also want it as the capital of their future state.
Control of the highly sensitive city remains one of the major stumbling blocks in any Israeli-Palestinian deal. On Saturday, Hamas seized the occasion to repeat its rejection of US President Donald Trump’s plan for ‘peace’ in the Middle East, billed as the ‘deal of the century’.
The plan, the movement said, is aimed at ‘liquidating the Palestinian cause and undermining the rights of the Palestinians.’ Iran’s permanent mission to the UN says Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands is the root of all regional conflicts.
Hamas also lashed out at Arab countries for their attempts to normalise relations with Israel, saying such efforts ‘are doomed to failure’. ‘Our people will stand against those who are promoting normalisation regardless of the sacrifices,’ it said.
Saudi Arabia is at the heart of the new push to forge normal relations with Israel, with reports of exchange of visits by Arab and Israeli ministers and politicians becoming a regular feature. In the occupied West Bank, the ruling Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas also vowed to ‘continue the struggle to end all forms of Israeli occupation,’ even though it did not specify its nature.
The Palestinians, Fatah said, will pursue their struggle with ‘greater determination until the right of return for refugees is achieved, as well as the right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East al-Quds as its capital.’ Fatah also voiced full support for Abbas in his rejection of the ‘deal of the century’ and Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s ‘capital’ and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.
• Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani refused to participate in the annual Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit, which took place in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh at the weekend, and instead sent the foreign minister to attend the event.
‘Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan al-Muraikhi arrived in Riyadh to lead the delegation of Qatar to the (P)GCC summit,’ director of information office at the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed al-Rumaihi, wrote in a post published on Twitter on Sunday.
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheih Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifah, in return, criticised Qatar’s emir in a tweet for not attending the regional grouping’s summit.
‘Qatar’s emir should have accepted the fair demands (of the boycotting states) and attended the summit,’ Sheikh Khalid wrote in his tweet.
The official Qatar News Agency said in a tweet on December 3 that the monarch had got ‘an invitation from the King of Saudi Arabia’ for the meeting, but it did not say whether Sheikh Tamim would travel to Saudi Arabia.
The Arabic language Al Aan online newspaper, citing diplomatic sources, reported late last month that Secretary General of the (P)GCC Abdul Latif bin Rashid al-Zayani was going to visit Doha to invite the Qatari emir to attend the the 39th annual summit of the regional grouping. Last month, Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah confirmed that all six GCC countries would be attending the annual summit of the council.