Thousands of Hezbollah
fighters have been ordered to maintain a heightened state of alert ahead of a large-scale Israel Defense Forces exercise which begins Sunday, the Shiite
group's representatives in southern Lebanon,
Nabil Qaouk, told the AFP news agency on Friday.
According to Qaouk, "A few thousands of our fighters will not go to the polls on Sunday (to participate in municipal elections in southern Lebanon) and are ready (for anything) today."
Israeli officials have stressed that the drill was planned in advance, but the Hezbollah man clarified that "in the event of a new aggression against Lebanon, the Israelis will not find a place to hide in Palestine."
Qaouk made the remarks during a meeting at his home in Tyre with Jewish American intellectual Noam Chomsky, who was denied entry
and the West Bank earlier this week.
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai held a press briefing this week on the "Turning Point 4" exercise, which is aimed at preparing the home front for a possible military conflict.
"The scenario we are referring to includes the firing of hundreds of missiles at Israel from different places and targets," Vilnai said. he stressed that the drill was preplanned and would include an air raid siren across the country on Wednesday.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah
is expected to deliver a speech on Friday afternoon on the backdrop of the recent tensions in the region. He is expected to address the internal situation in Lebanon, but will likely refer to regional issues as well.
French and German Foreign Ministers Bernard Kouchner and Guido Westerwelle are currently visiting Syria and Lebanon. The German Foreign Ministry reported that Westerwelle plans to "discuss regional aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict" and that the peace process "will be in the heart of the talks in an efforts to come up with constructive solutions for the regional conflict."