Hezbollah leader says it downed Israel drone to boost deterrence

Hassan Nasrallah said Lebanon and the Lebanese people reserve the right to defend the country against Israeli attacks. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 September 2019

Hezbollah leader says it downed Israel drone to boost deterrence

  • Hassan Nasrallah said Lebanon and the Lebanese people reserve the right to defend the country against Israeli attacks


BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s leader said on Tuesday his Iran-backed movement had shot down an Israeli drone in Lebanon for the first time to strengthen deterrence against attack by arch-foe Israel.
On Monday, Hezbollah said it downed and took possession of an Israeli drone in south Lebanon after a flare-up at the border with Israel around a week ago.
The brief exchange of cross-border fire between Hezbollah and Israel marked the fiercest shelling exchange since the long-time enemies fought a deadly month-long war in 2006.
“Despite all the threats and intimidation, today we are affirming the balance of power and reinforcing the deterrent force that protects our country,” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Tuesday at a rally marking the Shiite Muslim ceremony of Ashura.
He added that there were no longer red lines that Hezbollah would not cross in defending Lebanon from Israeli aggression.
He said this does not mean UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war, would not be respected, but that Lebanon and its people had the right to self-defense.
The resolution banned all unauthorized weapons between the Litani River in south Lebanon and the UN-monitored frontier between Israel and Lebanon.
While the heavily-armed Hezbollah has largely kept its arms out of sight and pledged respect for resolution 1701, it retains a strong presence in the south where it enjoys wide support.
Lebanon’s government has long complained to the United Nations about regular Israeli military flights in its airspace in breach of 1701.
Tensions rose in late August when two drones crashed in a Beirut southern suburb, which Hezbollah blamed on Israel and vowed to retaliate. Nasrallah has since said the flare-up ended but had launched a “new phase” between the two sides.
President Michel Aoun said on Tuesday that Lebanon was committed to 1701, which he accused Israel of violating.
“Any escalation by (Israel) will cause the collapse of stability in the border area,” Aoun said on Twitter.
Nasrallah also said on Tuesday that the expanding US global campaign of sanctions against Iran and its allies, including Hezbollah, was a form of “aggression.”
Washington last month hit the Lebanese Jammal Trust Bank and its subsidiaries with sanctions, accusing it of ties with Hezbollah, which the bank denies.
This is part of a US push in recent years to choke off Hezbollah’s funding, alongside a slew of steps against Tehran since US President Donald Trump withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran.
Nasrallah said that when sanctions begin to hurt the Lebanese people, Hezbollah “should behave in a different way,” without elaborating.
“To extend this aggression to affect other people — to banks not owned by Hezbollah and which have no connection with them and to wealthy people or traders just because of their religious affiliation or political viewpoints — this needs a different approach,” he said. 


Banks in Lebanon reopen amid security increase

Updated 26 min ago

Banks in Lebanon reopen amid security increase

  • Two security guards will be placed in front of each bank, and security patrols will be conducted in cities

BEIRUT: Banks in Lebanon will reopen on Tuesday after the Association of Banks in Lebanon approved measures to ease the anger of depositors and customers. 

More than 3,000 members of Beirut’s police, the regional gendarmerie, the judicial police, and the information division of the Internal Security Forces will provide protection to banks and their employees, who carried out an open strike for a week.

They did so due to customers’ anger over measures applied by banks on withdrawals and transfers amid Lebanon’s severe political and economic crisis, which sparked mass protests that have been ongoing for 33 days.

Two security guards will be placed in front of each bank, and security patrols will be conducted in cities.

The Association of Banks in Lebanon decided on Sunday to “stop restrictions on new funds transferred from abroad, provided that remittances abroad only cover urgent personal expenses.”

It also decided to lift restrictions on the circulation of checks, transfers, and the use of credit cards in Lebanon. 

As for the use of credit cards abroad, ceilings are determined by agreements between banks and customers.

The association has determined a maximum cash withdrawal rate of $1,000 per week for holders of current accounts in dollars, while checks issued in foreign currencies will be transferred into their account.

It has also urged customers to “use their credit cards, especially in Lebanese pounds, to buy their needs.”

Meanwhile, protesters are preparing to block roads leading to Parliament in the heart of Beirut on Tuesday, to prevent a legislative session from taking place. The session had already been postponed for a week.

In an attempt to placate protesters, the presidential palace’s media office said the president has ordered investigations into “financial crimes, waste, forgery, money laundering and suspicious transactions,” as well as “negligence at work, promotion of counterfeit medicines and suspicious reconciliation contracts.”