Against the backdrop of rumors that he was injured in an IDF air strike on Beirut, Hizbullah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, made a televised appearance Sunday afternoon, in which he called on Arabs and Muslims worldwide to support his group, saying the Shiite group was fighting on their behalf and that the battle has just began.
Nasrallah accused Israel of targeting civilians while his group has been trying to limit its rocket fire to military bases.
He added that his combatants were eager to fight, and vowed to surprise Israel on land, "just like we surprised you at sea."
A pale Nasrallah said in a speech aired on his Al-Manar TV that Hezbollah cambatants were at their "full strength" and that the group had "no choice" but to hit the northern Israeli city of Haifa with rockets Sunday after Israel struck civilians in Lebanon.
"As long as the enemy acts without limitations, it is our right to act similarly," he said.
"Israel doesn't know our capabilities on every level," Nasrallah said. "The Zionist enemy has not succeeded in infiltrating our group," he added.
'We can reach beyond Haifa'
"If Israel thinks that our missiles cannot reach beyond Haifa and Tiberias, then it is wrong. If you think Hizbullah cannot stand firm in this confrontation, then your government and army are deceiving you," he told the Israeli citizens.
Nasrallah said he taped the message at 1 p.m. Sunday, dispelling reports that he had been hurt in the massive Israeli bombing of his headquarters overnight. The message was aired about six hours after that time.
"We are in our full strength and power. We will choose the place and the time, and we will not let the enemy impose the means or place to use their weapons," he said.
Facing criticism by some in Lebanon that Hezbollah dragged the country into a fight with Israel by snatching two soldiers last week, Nasrallah sought to rally Lebanese and the Arab annd Islamic world behind his fighters.
Nasrallah painted the battle as a chance for the Arab and Islamic world to deal a defeat to Israel.
"You Arab and Muslim people must take a position toward your future, the future of your children," he said. "The peoples of the Arab and Islamic world have a historic opportunity to score a defeat against the Zionist enemy ...we are providing the example."
"Hezbollah is not fighting a battle for Hezbollah or even for Lebanon but for the Islamic nation," he said.
He denied Israeli claims that Iran had sent members of its elite Revolutionary Guards to help Hezbollah.
"I completely deny the presence of any Iranian troops," he said. "Lebanese are the ones firing these weapons …They talk about Iranians to diminish and humiliate us as Lebanese and Arabs that we don't have the capabilities and experience."