A defiant Hizbullah chief vowed on Wednesday to turn south Lebanon into a "graveyard" for invading Israeli troops, hours after the Jewish state ordered an expanded ground offensive.
In a televised speech, Hassan Nasrallah said Israeli attacks had not weakened its rocket capabilities and called on the Arab residents of Haifa to quit the Israeli city to avoid being hurt by the guerrilla group's barrages.
"You won't be able to stay in our land, and if you come in, we'll force you out," said Nasrallah in a recorded speech shown on Hizbullah's television station.
"We will turn our precious southern land into a graveyard for the invading Zionists."
Israel decided on Wednesday to expand its ground offensive in Lebanon, increasing pressure on major powers struggling to win agreement on a United Nations resolution to end the 29-day-old war.
Hizbullah supports Lebanese army' deployment
Nasrallah, whose group waged a war of attrition instrumental in ending Israel's 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, said
Nasrallah said his group supported a decision by the Lebanese government, which includes a Hizbullah minister, to deploy 15,000 troops to the border if that would bolster Lebanon's calls for the resolution to include a demand for Israel's immediate withdrawal from the south.
"The least you can say about this resolution is that it is unjust and oppressive," Nasrallah said.
"If everyone sees that deploying the army will help find a way out politically that would result in the halting of aggression ... This for us is a national and honorable way out."
Hizbullah, which largely controls Lebanon's southern border with Israel, had long resisted international pressure on Lebanon to deploy the Lebanese army to the south instead.