Hizbullah gladly received reports of seven deaths in northern Israel Thursday evening, as a result of rockets launched by terrorists from Lebanon. Leaders of the organization seem to be indicating a more stubborn approach to a ceasefire agreement: "A ceasefire is meaningless as long as our lands remain occupied – if so, naturally, we have the right, as Lebanese, to resist this occupation," explained Hizbullah media chief, Hassan Rahal.
The report of the killings in Israel created a feeling of pride among members of the organization. Announcers on Hizbullah's al-Manar television stations wore wide smiles and, over the course of the broadcast, aired militant TV clips and messages from viewers, who called in to support the organization's continued operations against Israel.
The words of the media chief - a source whose public appearances have been few to negligible in the past few weeks - expressed Hizbullah's toughening public stance regarding ceasefire. "Any ceasefire that does not include these things does not interest us. We cannot agree to the presence of even one foreign soldier on Lebanese soil." Rahal declared.
"In any ceasefire agreement, we cannot be ordered by any individual or government not to shoot at a soldier or tank that stands on our land. A ceasefire means the end of aggression and the manifestation of that is the withdrawal of all occupying troops from our land. We will not agree to any ceasefire that does not adhere to this exactly," Rahal explained.
The Israelis also did not express excitement at current ceasefire proposals offered thus far. In a cabinet meeting earlier this week, Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said that "Israel will not rush towards ceasefire prior to achieving our stated objectives for this operation." The PM's office emphasized that Israeli departure from Shebaa farms is not an option in a feasible ceasefire agreement.
'You achieved victory for Lebanon'
Hizbullah continues to send threatening messages Israel's way, perhaps from the assumption that the current fighting is reaching its final phases. In recent days, Israel has repeatedly been warned that if IDF forces dared to attack Beirut, Hizbullah will attack Tel Aviv "and beyond."
The Kuwaiti newspaper, al-Rai al-Aam, reported that the Hizbullah leadership instructed the organization's 'missiles division' to attack Tel Aviv in such an event, immediately and without need for further instructions. Nonetheless, according to the newspaper, the targeting of sites beyond Tel Aviv would be considered based on later developments. On Wednesday, senior Hizbullah operative, Mahmoud Komati, echoed these sentiments, and on Thursday, "Hizbullah officials who preferred to remain anonymous" issued similar statements.
Concurrently, Hizbullah's spiritual leader, Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, called upon members of his organization to stand fast. "The current stage is a test that will determine your present and future," he said.
"My beloveds, you achieved victory for Lebanon and for all Arabs and Muslims in the world in 2000, and now, because of your strong stance, your patience and the Jihad of your sons, you are moving towards a phase in which you will achieve a new victory for the entire Muslim ummah," Fadlallah added.