Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed on Friday that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have "won in terms of resistance" against Israel.
Nasrallah made a rare public appearance, coming out of his bunker to give a speech for the annual "Jerusalem Day," marked in Iran and Lebanon since the 1979 Islamic Republic in Iran.
|Nasrallah giving his annual Jerusalem Day speech|
Nasrallah called Israel a "terrorist state," comparing Operation Protective Edge to the 2008 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and the 2006 Second Lebanon war. "Both in 2006 and in 2008, the goal was to mislead, and bring to a breaking point and surrender." Despite that, he said, "in 2006 and 2008 the results were different."
"We can understand what the people of Gaza are feeling because we've been through it too," he added.
Drawing another comparison, between the kidnapping and murder of Israeli teens Naftali Frenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach and the kidnapping of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, Nasrallah said that "much like 2006, Israel thought it had a golden opportunity to start a war against Gaza."
Nasrallah claimed the operation's main objective is not to destroy Hamas, but all of the resistance movement, their weapons, culture, and their motivation. "The targets are every rocket and every tunnel in Gaza, and every drop of blood from the Gazans' blood."
Nasrallah said that the Israelis' failure was, among others, in defining a clear objective to the war: "They learned the lesson from the war in Lebanon. Then, the objectives were clear - to disarm the resistance, to bring back the captive soldiers, etc. Now Israel is not setting any objectives so it wouldn't fail.
"Israel's intelligence failed in exposing the Gaza rocket caches," the Hezbollah chief said, claiming Israel also failed in its aerial campaign: "That's very important for Lebanon."
He quoted the IAF chief, who said that the Air Force can defeat Hezbollah within 24 hours and Gaza within 12 hours. Nasrallah mockingly noted that "we're on the 18th day of the operation."
He also asserted Israel has failed in stopping rocket fire, and in its ground operation.
"Ehud Barak said that any possible Israeli war in Gaza will be fast and crushing and the victory will be obvious," Nasrallah went on to say. "But Gaza is telling them today - 'you are cowards who are murdering children and if you confront our heroes face to face, you and your army will fall.'"
Nasrallah praised the Gaza militants: "For the first time, rockets are launched from inside Palestine and cover the entire Palestine, this is a great effort. There's a lot of confidence in the resistance and the public stands strong."
He also praised the "resistance's leadership," that "rejects a ceasefire from day one, while the enemy wants it. Netanyahu will not surrender easily, but the resistance is forcing a solution on Israel, and the Israeli screams and asks the American to bring a solution."
The Hezbollah leader criticized the Arab world for not supporting the Gaza Strip "while it is being slaughtered" and accused them of cooperating with Israel and the United States.
He slammed some in the Arab media who called for the destruction of Hamas: "It is shameful."
"I'm telling everyone and to the people of Gaza that what would determine this campaign are three things - what's happening on the ground, the strong public stance, and the strong stance for the leadership. This is also what determined the results of the 1006 war."
In an unusual move, Nasrallah made his speech last year in the same room as the audience, rather than via a televised link on large screens.
The speech came amid recent reports on Hezbollah opposition websites that Nasrallah underwent a sensitive surgery in a Beirut hospital, which was the reason he did not attend several Ramadan month events. Hezbollah-affiliated websites denied these reports.
Nasrallah also called Hamas leader Khaled Mashal and Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah. He praised the two for their strong stance against Israel and offered Hezbollah's help in the fight against the common enemy. He also met with Shalah in person in Beirut to discuss the latest developments in Gaza.