Hezbollah Leader Claims Group Has Acquired Precision Missiles
On Thursday, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s paramilitary group and political party Hezbollah, claimed that his organization had acquired precision-guided missiles.
Nasrallah made the announcement while addressing a crowd of supporters on the day of A’shura, a time of mourning for Shi’a Muslims in commemoration of the 680 AD martyrdom of Hussain, an Imam (spiritual leader) and grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
Nasrallah spoke to his supporters over a large television screen, as he is hiding in an undisclosed location.
In his speech, Nasrallah added that his supporters should not worry about “what Israel does or how it tries to cut [Hezbollah’s] weapons supply routes, because [Hezbollah] has now acquired precision missiles.” However, he did not present any evidence to back up his claim.
Hezbollah has a longstanding enmity with Israel. Hezbollah was formed in 1982, in the midst of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), in response to Israel’s invasion of Southern Lebanon.
The organization draws most of its support from Lebanon’s Shi’as and has been a consistent ally of Iran, another enemy of Israel. During 2006’s war between Hezbollah and Israel, the former surprised the latter with the use of sophisticated anti-ship and anti-armor weaponry allegedly provided by Iran.
Iran and Hezbollah are both allies of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and have supported his regime both on the battlefield and off it since the beginning of the ongoing Syrian Civil War seven years ago. Israel regularly targets alleged weapons shipments between Iran and Hezbollah in Syria.
Israel is concerned about Iran’s attempt to spread political and military influence in the Middle East. In order to prevent Iran from building up its military in Syria, it has carried out over 200 air attacks in Syria over the past 18 months.
Israel responded to Nasrallah’s recent pronouncement by warning Hezbollah against military action. In a televised speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said, “I suggest that [Nasrallah] think not twice but twenty times, because if he confronts us he will get a crushing blow that he cannot even imagine.”
On Thursday, at a Yom Kippur War memorial ceremony, Netanyahu also said that Israel will act with full force if war is imposed upon it: “We must make every effort to prevent war, but if it is imposed upon us, we will act with full force against those who would kill us.”