Israel could be ‘wiped out’ in a war with Iran, Hezbollah leader warns

An image grab taken from Hezbollah's al-Manar TV on July 12, 2019, shows Hasan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon's militant Shiite movement Hezbollah, giving an interview in Lebanon. (AFP / AL-MANAR TV)
Updated 13 July 2019

Israel could be ‘wiped out’ in a war with Iran, Hezbollah leader warns

  • Nasrallah said Israel would not be “neutral” if a war broke out between the US and Iran
  • And Iran can bombard Israel with ferocity and force, he said on Hezbollah TV

BEIRUT: The head of Lebanon’s Tehran-backed Hezbollah said Friday that US ally Israel would not be “neutral” if a war broke out between the United States and Iran.
And “Iran is able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force,” Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview broadcast on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television.
His remarks came after weeks of increasing tensions between the US and Iran, and as US President Donald Trump steps up his war of words with the Islamic Republic.
“When the Americans understand that this war could wipe out Israel, they will reconsider,” Nasrallah said.
“Our collective responsibility in the region is to work toward preventing an American war on Iran,” he said.
On Friday, the US House of Representatives voted to restrict Trump’s ability to attack Iran, voicing fear that his hawkish policies are pushing toward a needless war.
Hezbollah is considered to be a terrorist organization by the United States, and is the only faction not to have disarmed after the Lebanese 1975-1990 civil war.
But it is also a major political player in the small Mediterranean country, taking 13 seats in parliament last year and securing three posts in the current cabinet.
Nasrallah also said he had decreased the number of his movement’s fighters supporting the Damascus regime in neighboring war-torn Syria.
“The Syrian army has greatly recovered and has found that today it does not need us,” he said.
“We are present in every area that we used to be. We are still there, but we don’t need to be there in large numbers as long as there is no practical need,” he said.
The head of the Iran-backed Shiite movement, which has been fighting in Syria since 2013, did not give details on the extent of the reduction.
Backed by Russia and Iran, the Damascus government has taken back large swathes of territory from rebels and jihadists since 2015, and now controls around 60 percent of the country.
Nasrallah spoke after Washington announced fresh sanctions Tuesday against Hezbollah, targeting elected officials from the movement for the first time.
Nasrallah said none of his fighters were currently involved in fighting in Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib, where regime and Russian forces have increased deadly bombardments on a jihadist-run bastion since late April.
But “if there was a need to return, all those who were there would go back” to Syria, he added.
Responding to a question about repeated Israeli air strikes on Syria, he said the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “deceiving his people.”
“He is playing a game of brinkmanship, because Iran will not leave Syria,” he warned.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah military targets. It has vowed to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily there.
Nasrallah’s interview came to mark the start of his movement’s 2006 war with Israel, which killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Both countries are still technically at war, and a UN peacekeeping force has said three tunnels have been found to have dug under the border from Lebanon into Israel since late last year.
The group’s leader warned that key Israeli installations along the Mediterranean coast including Tel Aviv were “within range of our rockets.”


Beirut port blast crater 43 meters deep: security official

Updated 3 min 36 sec ago

Beirut port blast crater 43 meters deep: security official

  • Crater is much larger than the one left by the enormous blast in 2005 that killed former prime minister Rafic Hariri

BEIRUT: The huge chemical explosion that hit Beirut’s port, devastating large parts of the Lebanese capital and claiming over 150 lives, left a 43-meter (141 foot) deep crater, a security official said Sunday.
The blast Tuesday, which was felt across the county and as far as the island of Cyprus, was recorded by the sensors of the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS) as having the power of a magnitude 3.3 earthquake.
It was triggered by a fire in a port warehouse, where a huge shipment of hazardous ammonium nitrate, a chemical that can be used as a fertilizer or as an explosive, had languished for years, according to authorities.
The huge blast also wounded at least 6,000 people and displaced more than 300,000 from their destroyed or damaged homes.
The revelation that the chemicals had languished for years like a ticking time-bomb in the heart of the capital has served as shocking proof to many Lebanese of the rot at the core of the state apparatus.
Demonstrators on Sunday called for renewed anti-government rallies after a night of angry protests saw them storm several ministries before they were expelled by the army.
It was a new tactic for a protest movement that emerged last October to demand the removal of a political class long accused of being inept and corrupt.
“The explosion in the port left a crater 43 meters deep,” the Lebanese security official said, citing assessments by French experts working in the disaster area.
The crater is much larger than the one left by the enormous blast in 2005 that killed former prime minister Rafic Hariri, which measured 10 meters across and two meters deep, according to an international tribunal investigating his murder.
French rescue and police teams are among a much larger group of international emergency response specialists that has flooded into Lebanon to ease pressure on local authorities unable to cope with the disaster relief on their own.
Qatari, Russian and German rescuers are also working at the port blast site.