“Our command structure and capabilities are in perfect condition and suffered no harm, and we have the ability to continue (the war at this rate) for very long. Also, regarding the situation on the ground, the fighters are not yet in action. Ground clashes that took place during the last two days are only the beginning of the confrontation. And therefore, these fighters present at the border provided no (serious) effort so far, and these last days, we are only at the beginning.” Hassan Nasrallah, 6th floor of a building in the southern suburb of Beirut, July 20, 2006.
At the height of the Israeli air strikes, Hassan Nasrallah, who had given three speeches during the first six days of the war, gave no sign of life for nearly a week. The Israeli media and war propaganda, who claimed from the beginning that he had fled to Syria or Iran, now announced his death as a virtual certainty, because of this unusual silence and of the magnitude of the strikes against Hezbollah strongholds, including southern Lebanon and especially the southern suburbs of Beirut (Dahiyeh). The destruction was such that it gave its name to a military doctrine, formulated by the Chief of staff of Tsahal Gadi Eisenkot in 2008, consisting of the annihilation of densely populated urban areas in retaliation against the “Party of God”.
Massively hitting infrastructure and civilian populations from the air was all the Israeli army was able to do, with the IDF infantry suffering serious losses during its unsuccessful ground incursion attempts –dozens of dead and wounded, and the destruction of several 4th generation Merkava tanks, the most modern ones. The intelligence services of the Zionist entity, despite their reputation for excellence, had failed to penetrate any of the secrets of the Resistance, so that even the air strikes proved to be militarily ineffective. Despite Ehud Olmert’s initial rhetoric, announcing to the cameras that most of Hezbollah’s ballistic capability had been destroyed, missile / rocket fire against Israeli settlements and cities went on increasing until the last day of the war, striking the Zionist entity ever deeper. The north of Israel was completely paralyzed, the country had lost billions of dollars and continued to suffer direct losses of $100 million a day (not counting indirect losses and repercussions on the rest of the economy). A million Israelis were displaced and another million were holed up in shelters: it was unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Israeli wars. On July 21, the White House received a request from Olmert and the IDF for the provision of large amounts of precision-guided munitions –another telltale sign that the Israeli Air Force had failed in its mission to degrade Hezbollah military assets significantly during the opening rounds of the war– , and mobilized its reserve forces in such a hasty and chaotic manner that until the end of the conflict, their supply of equipment, ammunition and even water will be defective. Every day, the official objectives of the Israeli aggression were revised downwards: the annihilation of Hezbollah, an insane objective to set, became its removal away of the border, then its mere weakening. But the Lebanese Resistance was to emerge from this war stronger than ever.
“Hezbollah’s robust and hardened defenses were the result of six years of diligent work, beginning with the Israeli withdrawal from the region in 2000. Many of the command bunkers designed and built by Hezbollah engineers were fortified, and a few were even air-conditioned.
The digging of the arsenals over the previous years had been accompanied by a program of deception, with some bunkers being constructed in the open and often under the eyes of Israeli drone vehicles or under the observation of Lebanese citizens with close ties to the Israelis. With few exceptions, these bunkers were decoys. The building of other bunkers went forward in areas kept hidden from the Lebanese population. The most important command bunkers and weapons-arsenal bunkers were dug deeply into Lebanon’s rocky hills – to a depth of 40 meters. Nearly 600 separate ammunition and weapons bunkers were strategically placed in the region south of the Litani.
For security reasons, no single commander knew the location of each bunker and each distinct Hezbollah militia unit was assigned access to three bunkers only – a primary munitions bunker and two reserve bunkers, in case the primary bunker was destroyed. Separate primary and backup marshaling points were also designated for distinct combat units, which were tasked to arm and fight within specific combat areas. The security protocols for the marshaling of troops was diligently maintained. No single Hezbollah member had knowledge of the militia’s entire bunker structure. […]
Lebanese (and Hezbollah) intelligence officials arrested at least 16 Israeli spies in Lebanon, though they failed to find or arrest the leader of the ring. Moreover, during two years from 2004 until the eve of the war, Hezbollah had successfully “turned” a number of Lebanese civilian assets reporting on the location of major Hezbollah military caches in southern Lebanon to Israeli intelligence officers. In some small number of crucially important cases, Hezbollah senior intelligence officials were able to “feed back” false information on their militia’s most important emplacements to Israel – with the result that Israel target folders identified key emplacements that did not, in fact, exist.”
Deeply entrenched Hezbollah fighters were thus eagerly awaiting a ground operation that would allow them to inflict considerable losses on enemy forces. All the firepower of the most formidable army in the region, far from repeating a thundering and victorious blitzkrieg as in 1967, failed to inflict any damage to the guerrillas –or rather mujahideen– of Hezbollah, for whom serious business had not even begun, and whose position remained inflexible. Hassan Nasrallah calmly envisioned a more dazzling victory than that of May 25, 2000, for both Lebanon and Palestine (Gaza was then feeling the full force of Operation Summer Rains), which he never lost sight of. And he even allowed himself to thumb his nose at the Israelis by mocking their essays over the length of his beard, as well as the Western countries and the Gulf monarchies –who were assisting the Israeli war effort with all their resources–, explaining how he would infallibly force them to participate in the reconstruction of Lebanon.
The most remarkable aspect of this interview was only revealed six years later by Hassan Nasrallah, in another interview with Ghassan bin Jiddo on September 3, 2012. The journalist had never revealed it to anyone, respecting the secrecy he was bound to. He had, moreover, fully justified the trust Nasrallah had in him, having left Al-Jazeera after its interventionist drift during the “Arab Spring”, and founded the Al-Mayadeen channel, which is, with Al-Manar and Al-Alam, one of the three major media of the Resistance Axis.
At the beginning of the July 2006 interview, Ghassan bin Jiddo had maintained ambiguity about where they were, identifying the location as “a certain place in the world”, so as not to inform an Israeli enemy in full hysteria. Israeli commanders indeed made the assassination of Hassan Nasrallah an absolute priority, as they desperately sought the least military success to present to their public opinion. And as it will be revealed later, in addition to the western and Gulf intelligence services, Hassan Nasrallah was also hunted by a special Lebanese unit mandated by the felonious government of Fouad Siniora, who was plotting against Hezbollah. In 2012, Hassan Nasrallah revealed for the first time that the interview of July 20, 2006 took place not in Iran, in Syria or in any remote part of Lebanon, but in the heart of the southern suburbs of Beirut, which were bombed daily, and who had just suffered the day before a massive raid of 40 enemy planes. And it was not even held in a bunker or umpteenth basement, but on the sixth floor of a building, in a neighborhood that had been bombed several times by the Israeli air force, and from which one could hear enemy warplanes. Ghassan bin Jiddo, based in Beirut, immediately identified the place, as the safety measures during the roadtrip that took him to Hassan Nasrallah were minimal.
“A few months before the 33-days war, one of our brothers, a student of theology in Qom (Iran), informed me that His Eminence Sheikh Bahjat –may God protect him, as we used to say then; now, we say may God Sanctify him– henceforth enjoined me to recite this invocation: ‘‘O my God, protect me with your invincible shield behind which You place whoever You want’’. (I had to recite it every single day), three times in the morning and three times in the evening. I asked him if there was a particular reason for this, and he replied that he knew nothing about it and that he had only been instructed to transmit this reminder (taught by the Prophet).
Of course, the content of the invocation indicates a security aspect, attention, protection, vigilance. And it is known that our conditions in Lebanon are very difficult because of security threats and the omnipresent possibility of an assassination, as it happened to our brothers in the past, and as it happened to our own (previous) Secretary General, Sayed Abbas Mousawi, who was martyred (murdered by Israel) with his wife and (5-years-old) son (in 1992). It is natural that one always feels in danger. So I told myself that something was going to happen, and my mind went to the security aspect and the possibility of an assassination, an attack (against me) or something like that. But a few months later, the war took place. And during the war, the Israelis, from the first day, tried by all means to locate me and hit massively any place where my presence was supposed. […] And then I understood that this invocation was meant to protect and safeguard me during the war, not before it.”
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Dear viewers, God’s peace be upon you. Suffice it to say that I am in the presence of the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Eminent Sayyed (descendant of the Prophet) Hassan Nasrallah, right now. The battles are continuing in that moment. We are at a certain time, in a certain place in the world, not just of Lebanon, as I used to say earlier. That is why I will make no introduction, and turn directly to Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to ask him questions.
Eminent Sayyed, first, thank you for agreeing to this meeting at this (particularly sensitive) time. Today, it’s been almost ten days since the war began. What can you tell us about the military and political developments?
Hassan Nasrallah: In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Summarizing the military and political situation at once would be difficult…
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Without details, just an overview.
Hassan Nasrallah: Let me start with the ground, the military situation. The general situation that we can clearly mention militarily is first of steadfastness, a major and important steadfastness (of the Resistance against the Israeli aggression), and secondly a complete absorption of Israeli strikes.
During the last days, we believe that the Israelis did absolutely everything they could do from the air and the sea. Of course, we will talk about the possibility of a ground invasion shortly. But they have no target left (to strike), whether old, new, hypothetical, supposed, based on data or analysis… Everything they could hit, they hit. Among the targets they have struck, I will return to the distinction between military and civilian targets, but I want to talk only about the military side for now.
At this point, I can confirm without exaggeration, and it is not psychological warfare, these are facts, that Hezbollah’s command structure was not harmed. Last night, they conducted a very powerful strike on a building in the southern suburbs of Beirut (Dahiyeh), speaking themselves of 22 tons of explosives, and the strike was carried out by a large number of aircraft. And they boasted of having achieved a success, (alledgedly) killing Hezbollah commanders and many members of the Resistance. But that was not true. Anyway, your correspondent there reported that he had seen neither ambulances nor rescue teams, because the building was empty and under construction.
The entire command structure of Hezbollah, in its entirety, be it political, jihadist (military) operational, social, etc. (is intact). So far, the Zionists were not able to kill any Hezbollah cadres or leaders, at any level.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: You talk about political or military leaders?
Hassan Nasrallah: Both. In all certainty, I want to tell you and to tell viewers: whenever we have a martyr, we inform his family, we adopt (him officially as a Hezbollah martyr) and then we announce it publicly. We do not hide our martyrs until the end of the fighting, we have never done so in our entire history. On the contrary, we have always prided and glorified ourselves of our martyrs.
Until that moment, by the Grace of God, anything that relates to the Command or Operations of Hezbollah, be it the military or administrative (political, media, social…) command, having a direct relationship with the battle or a related role in other aspects, this whole structure is intact, and especially the military command structure on the ground. That’s the first point.
And we also control the number of missiles / rockets that are launched. Today, the Resistance is able to launch hundreds of rockets / missiles in one day, and there is no obstacle for that on the ground, despite the intense Israeli movements of Israeli aircraft in our skies. But we limit the number of missiles / rockets (launched daily) because we manage our battle (our way) and I will return in a moment on the way we conduct our battle.Our command structure and capabilities are therefore in perfect condition and suffered no harm, and we have the ability to continue (the war at this rate) for very long.
And the day of the strike against the Israeli warship off the coast of Beirut, the Israeli command decided to move all their warships several tens of kilometersaway (from the coast of Beirut). And what is sometimes said in the media is wrong, about the fact that Israeli warships hit Dahiyeh (southern suburbs of Beirut) or that area, that’s incorrect. Now, in most places, Israeli ships (can) no longer carry out strikes because they are too far offshore. It is the Israeli aircraft which carries out strikes. At this level, they have a clear superiority.
So much for an overview of the situation on the ground.
Of course, confrontations took place, with the destruction of many Merkava tanks, especially that it is mostly the 4th generation Merkava, the most modern of Israeli tanks. The Israelis acknowledge the tenacity, strength and courage of the fighters on the front lines. And of course, we place our hopes on these fighters.
I believe that if you look at it globally, the military situation, I can confirm that so far, Hezbollah:
1 / successfully resisted,
2 / has managed to absorb the shock,
3 / was able to take the initiative,
4 / realized some of the surprises he had promised. And there are still a number of surprises that we keep for the next stage.
On the ground, Hezbollah continues to lead the battle calmly, with level-headedness and serenity, without excessive or uncontrolled reaction, as you can see, without empty threats, no loose talk. We are monitoring the situation accurately and calmly, and we take very carefully into account in our calculations all the data related to time (how long this war can last), places (to which confrontations may extend), numbers (of missiles / rockets or deployed fighters), capacity, battles, points, fronts and every detail at the military level.
That’s the general situation.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Excuse me, Eminent Sayyed, what guarantee do we have that what you describe as calm is not a pretense? And what guarantee do we have that you lead the battle calmly and not with impulsivity, and do not hide considerable military losses which Israel is talking about?
Hassan Nasrallah: First, you know Lebanon. Today, the Israelis imposed a total blackout on the media in the north of occupied Palestine and throughout occupied Palestine. Nobody can broadcast information or images of what is happening. It is the military censorship that allows any information to be broadcast (or not) or broadcasts it itself.
Even you, Al Jazeera (present in Israel), have suffered what you have suffered in terms of arrests, interrogations, restrictions, etc. Why would Israel make all these efforts to hide the truth on its side (if the situation was to its advantage)? Why? Is it only because they accuse the media of giving us (sensitive) coordinates? This is a childish pretext. The coordinates of such colonies or Israeli military bases, whether in the north, center, or any point in occupied Palestine are already in our possession, without need for anyone to provide us with data, information, images or whatever.
In reality, they want to hide the real impact of the war on their side, because if their situation was known, it would inevitably have (negative) consequences with the Israeli public, the Israeli media and morale of the Israeli people. And that’s what fears (most of all) the Olmert government and the IDF.
On our side, today, the Lebanese media publishes everything: the (destruction caused by) strikes, the martyrs, the civilian (victims), the martyred fighters… All the villages and all the roads are accessible, even the southern suburbs of Beirut, where the media came. The (images of) the place that was hit yesterday aired this morning. The media have been there and filmed / photographed everything. Therefore, everything is clear and transparent on our side. And you know Lebanon better than others, you know there are no secrets in Lebanon. If we have martyrs, at most we could hide them for an hour or two (if we wanted) but their family, their village would know (and would make it known rapidly) because these fighters do not come from abroad, they are the children of this country. If a Hezbollah commander was martyred, it would be revealed in a few hours. Therefore, we do not hide our martyrs, we take pride in them, and secondly, I assure you that with respect to the operational structure of Hezbollah, I confirm to you that things run their (normal) course.
Some time ago, the Israelis presented to the media a picture of a truck, claiming it was carrying Hezbollah weapons and ammunition. Very good. They film all the targets they hit. Let them show us images of launchers, missiles and military bases they would have hit. So far, they hit wrong (non-military) targets, which reveals on the one hand a technical and logistical failure, and also a failure of their information.
The water drilling machines they struck at Achrafiyeh, these old rigs, this clearly indicates that they have no information on the ground. And I do not agree with the analysis that they would have hit Achrafiyeh to draw Christians or the people of Achrafiyeh against the Resistance. We must be careful with these analyzes. The truth is they have photographed these two machines, which probably looked like missile launchers on their pictures, and they therefore hit them. It’s a failure. If they rely on their reconnaissance drones, it is a technical failure. And if they rely on agents on the ground, it is a failure of their information. So if they have pictures (of Hezbollah locations successfully hit), let them present them to the world.
Of course I do not pretend nor claim that they didn’t hit one single missiles / rockets launch pad. I can not say it (categorically). Perhaps one or two have been hit here or there for example. But after 9 days, the most powerful air force in the Middle East, among the most powerful armies in the world, which has the total control of the air, because we do not have the ability to fight in the air, its reconnaissance drones overpowering and crisscrossing all Lebanese sky, its pervasive and powerful aviation, striking forcefully with all types of aircraft, and despite all this, until now, the fact that Israel is unable to stop the missiles / rockets or reduce our ballistic capability is clearly (a huge failure).
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Can we say that the land battle has just begun or not?
Hassan Nasrallah: We can not say it exactly. So far, what is happening is that there are attempts of incursion on specific border points. In this respect…
Since when Hezbollah has fortified barracks along the border? The border points which they speak about are only points of observation and could not be more modest, comprising all in all a pole with a camera, connected to a room from where it was controlled. Nothing more. And all this has been evacuated from the first day. So if Israel now claims to have destroyed frontline positions, they mean these poles. And if they claim to have held frontline points, these are points on the border that we evacuated from the first day, when the capture operation (of Israeli soldiers) took place.
Currently, I confirm to you that Israel, now that its powerlessness (is revealed), has an intelligence problem from the air and ground. The majority of their agents (in Lebanon) are on the run, some of them were arrested, and others remained invisible. And the movements of their agents on the ground to set (targets) or provide information are greatly impeded. Anyway, Israel needs to send commandos inside the Lebanese territory, whether to collect information or to correct some strikes on the front lines, or make operations to capture or kill mujahedeen (fighters) of the Resistance, in order to be able to say they fought and achieved a success on the battlefield, especially that the Israeli navy has withdrawn after we hit their Corvette.
As for the air force, (all that it has done so far) is not successful, they have accomplished nothing. That’s why they look for any accomplishment on the ground.
What happened so far is in this framework, and I do not see it as the beginning of a ground invasion. But on this regard, I wish to state that firstly, we have faced these incursions with force and we have pushed them back, and were it not for the difficult conditions for obtaining and broadcasting images of the operations, we could have shown the tanks that we have destroyed, which would have been required and preferable, but anyway, they acknowledge themselves that tanks were destroyed, and that soldiers got killed and wounded. And I promise them more combat and heroic resistance from the mujahedeen (fighters) of the Resistance over the entire length of the border.
But regarding the choice of a ground operation, it is possible that they resort to it, and anyway, we were ready for that from day one. Of course, I do not want to raise expectations, and I do not make speeches (to give enthusiasm at the expense of reality). We are engaged in a real battle. I never said that the Israeli enemy would be unable to enter a single point of southern Lebanon. We are not a classic army extended from the sea to Mount Hermon. We are a movement of genuine popular Resistance. There are several regions and areas where we are not present. It is possible that the enemy manages to enter a point, to enter a village, to undertake a major ground operation. And let no one say that Hezbollah had promised (that Israel would never be able to enter Lebanese territory). I repeat that I have never promised anything like this. And let no one say tomorrow that since Israel reached Mt. such or such village, they won a historic victory, never. That is not the issue. This is something that can happen at any time. As for us, our equation and our doctrine is that when Israel enters our territory, they have to pay a very high price in terms of their tanks, officers and soldiers. This is what we promise and we will keep this promise God willing.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Do you expect the battles to last for long? Until when? And do you prepare yourself, as stated by a (Lebanese) general, to lose many men?
Of course, we never believed at any time that the Israeli aggression was the result (of the capture of Israeli soldiers). Perhaps the reaction of the first moments was a natural reaction to a capture of Israeli soldiers. But hours later, the issue went well beyond the response to a capture of prisoners, and Israel launched a (huge) project. This project, officials, leaders and Israeli media were talking about it, to varying degrees, we will return to it in more detail later.
For example, they talked to get rid of Hezbollah once and for all, not of the ballistic power of Hezbollah, but to annihilate Hezbollah. Then they set the bar lower, and spoke of dismantling the military structure of Hezbollah. Then they again revised their goals downwards, and spoke of ending the ballistic power of the (Hezbollah) military structure. Then they again revised their goals downwards – they go down a level per day – and they said they could not do away with the military power of Hezbollah, but they wanted to inflict damage on it and weaken its force. Then they lowered the bar further, and said that they wanted Hezbollah away from the border. And of course, when they speak of pushing us 10 or 20 kilometers away, they know that it does not mean diminishing our ballistic power. Today when we hit Haifa, Afula and more distant cities still – and we have the ability to strike even further than that – talking about 10 or 20 kilometers amounts to a mere detail (without any impact on the ground). And at one point, they said no, the purpose of their operation was to free the two prisoners, but I guarantee you it is not the goal of their operation.
Anyway, slogans on the one hands, and objectives on the other hand that have been announced for this aggression mean that we are facing a process that can extend over time. I can not say one week, two weeks, three weeks, a month, more, less, because it is linked both to developments on the battlefield and to political developments. Currently…
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Does it depends on you or on Israel?
Hassan Nasrallah: It depends on both us and them. The future of the battle… I’ll explain the situation.
Today in Israel, they begin to say, and it is a logical analysis, that the Israeli military operation has reached its peak. Because Israel can not do anything more than it already has. Apart from a ground invasion, which will in any way be very expensive, and about which there is a real debate not only among politicians, at the political level, but also at the military and security levels, there is a real dispute within the military and security commands. Remains only the question of the ground invasion. Besides the ground invasion, Israel has done all that it could do.
They arrived at the highest point (of their aggression), and now have two options: when one arrives at the peak, either they advance horizontally, that is maintain the same firepower, the same dose, or they start to decline in intensity, military operations begin to diminish, to calm down gradually, opening the door to a political resolution. How long will last this process? It depends on developments (in the battlefield).
Today, as the war continues, the entire north, northern Israel is paralyzed – sorry, I mean northern occupied Palestine, I apologize, the north of occupied Palestine is paralyzed. There are two million Israelis who are either in shelters or got out of the region, were exiled from the region (and became refugees). All the northern economy is paralyzed: factories, trade, tourism, all economic activities are paralyzed. It may be that the number of people killed and injured on their side is much lower than ours, which is natural because we do not have… They have a considerable arsenal, while our arsenal is not meant for destruction, retaliation and revenge, but only for deterrence. They have a huge capacity of destruction, I do not exaggerate. And they have shelters. Show me a single village in the south that has shelters. So far, much of Southerners are still in the south. And if we had the means to build shelters, all would remain and there would be no refugees. Nobody today would live in schools waiting to be provided with their daily bread. But in Israel, from the border to remote areas towards the south, there are shelters for colonies. It is therefore natural that there be fewer deaths and injuries in Israel. But the damage to the economy, and the pressures faced by the (Israeli) people (in occupied Palestine) because of the exodus and life in shelters (becomes unbearable)…
Israel promised them a quick operation, and keeps repeating every day (that the final victory is imminent). The first day, the second day, the third… Every day, according to (the propaganda in) Israeli media, they kill me two or three times, they kill Hezbollah commanders (by dozens), they perform extraordinary (military) feats, etc. But then, how long (this propaganda) can last? So far, Israeli society is united around its government. We have already experienced this in 1993, in 1996, in previous wars, but this support will start to crumble if the war continues.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Excuse me, you spoke several times of ‘disaster’, what do you mean exactly?
Hassan Nasrallah: A disaster for their tanks, their officers and soldiers, who will pay a very high price. From day one, even on the (intra-Lebanese) negotiating table, even in my previous speeches, I said that as for the (Israeli) air force, I (Hezbollah) could not down a F-16 aircraft. We have never claimed such a thing. Even as regards the navy, we had claimed / promised nothing, and we have surprised them at sea (by destroying their Corvette).
But on earth, we have an experience of 23 years, a serious and authentic experience, combat capability and a very high expertise, very effective weapons at this level, and very strong preparations in this regard. So it’s a matter of time now.
I do not consider probable that Israel manages to achieve any military accomplishment on the battlefield. It is only a matter of time, of keeping our military steadfastness on the one hand, and political steadfastness in the country (on the other hand), as well as popular steadfastness of the country. Israel relies on the disruption and weakening of our internal political situation, (bargains on the fact) that popular support for the Resistance will get undermined, weaken and crumble, so they realize political results. And for our part, we naturally rely on the steadfastness and persistence of our people, the weakening of the Israeli Interior popular support for the Israeli military operation and the beginning of pressures against the enemy government (to stop the war), and I believe that today, we see the first signs of that.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: We’ll talk about political issues, but what you just mentioned about the popular steadfastness is important. It’s not a secret, Eminent Sayed, that in areas where Hezbollah fighters are, you enjoy a genuine popular support. Now part of this genuine popular support has evacuated, (becoming refugees), and has already been hit hard, there is complete destruction… Frankly, do you still believe in your popular support? Don’t you think that even if you win militarily, you lose on the popular level, even within your own sect (Shiites), your own grassroots, not to mention the other (parts of the Lebanese population)?
Hassan Nasrallah: Before our interview, (I met with) my (Hezbollah) brothers, who go to all the places where Lebanese refugees are located, meet people and talk to them, and the most important is that they have informed me that embassies of Western countries sent survey teams to the places where the refugees were. And when they asked questions to the refugees, they asked about their religion and sect. And of course, they are primarily interested in the opinion of the Shiites, because of the (sectarian) structure of the country, because they believe that if the Shiites begin to crumble and distance themselves from the Resistance, this can be a (strong) indication of the estrangement of the other components of the Lebanese population. Because of the situation of the country, this is how things are (the popular base of Hezbollah is mostly Shiite, this component being the largest in the country).
And these survey teams left the scene stunned after their visits and meetings. They found very strong support for the Resistance, a willingness to endure and sacrifice. They heard many women say they are willing to sacrifice their children, and even to go fight themselves. “We are steadfast, we have patience, we endure, and we do not accept that the Resistance be defeated, humiliated or hit.” Anyway, there is no need for myself to go and ask refugees nor that anyone (specific) goes there (to report about the situation), people can go there by themselves to meet these people, but appropriately and honestly. (The media) should not take a person who is not even a refugee, and who’d pretend to speak on their behalf.
All field data and all our information (confirm this strong support for the Resistance), and anyway, we are in permanent contact with them, because they are our families, whether in villages or towns (in the South) who continue to face (the Israeli aggression), in the more remote regions or among refugees. Such is the general feeling, and it is a certainty for us. And in my opinion, it is well known, at least to the Western embassies who follow the situation closely, and provide information to the Israelis and decision-making centers in the world. And the responses they have received today will influence the future of the battle.
And on this point, I thank all the (Lebanese) who by their position and their stamina will lessen the number of days of the war. Why? Because if the survey teams had heard from people a beginning of weakening, exhaustion or collapse, they would have said to Israel “Continue, you can achieve your objectives, and it does not require much more time”, because Israel can not stand a long war, and based on this, the intervention of American leaders and others (to end the war) would have been postponed. But today, yesterday and the day before yesterday, and especially today, they heard very strong words, widely adopted, noble and dignified, and with certainty, I tell you that they began to despair (of detaching the popular base of Hezbollah from the Resistance or achieve any goal in this war).
And I want to repeat what I said a few days ago: we really have a dignified people, and I speak of the Lebanese people in general, I do not mean just the Shiites. The Lebanese people is honorable, dignified and great, and these are not flattering or exaggerated words. Today, you can go to any region of Lebanon, whether mostly Christian, Sunni or Druze, and see how they behave with the rest of the Lebanese refugees.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: But it seems that there is a distinction, a separation between compassion with these refugees, based on their being Lebanese, and vis-à-vis what Hezbollah and the Resistance do. It is said that the other sects and other parties do not approve the attitude of Hezbollah, its behavior, and how he brought Lebanon in this battle, as they say.
Hassan Nasrallah: I am not speaking of some political forces, I mean the people, who generally live in a difficult position, the honorable people, of whom we see the pride, honor, patriotism, especially that now, all the political forces say that what happened happened, and the settling of accounts should come later, as we say ourselves, no problem (we are ready to be held accountable). The political atmosphere is to unite to face this battle. This level of political discourse in which there is less incentive –I’m not saying that there is no incentive, I say that there is less (than usual)– gives people the opportunity to see things from their inner nature (without being influenced). Today, the masses of the Resistance do not feel isolated from the nation and the people of Lebanon, and the Resistance does not feel that its masses around it began to move away from it in any case. I guarantee you that the masses of the Resistance are more resolute and determined (than ever).
And even when we go… For there will certainly be (internal) negotiations and political debates. When we go into these negotiations, one of the most important things that Hezbollah leaders must keep in mind is that behind them stand masses who will not accept what they would consider as humiliating concessions, etc. These masses will have high expectations from Hezbollah, at the height of the endurance of the people and their sacrifices, and it is what we are going to get.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Anyway, Eminent Sayed, there are voices that say that Hezbollah can currently be strong in the field of military standpoint, at least, as you said, but it seems to be excluded, isolated, rejected internationally, and also to have its back against the wall politically inside (Lebanon). Even those who were your allies in the past, I do not say (all of them), but even the political forces with which you used to get along inside today do not hide their discomfort. True, they say that the settling of accounts will come later, but they do not hide their discomfort and even say this: “How can Hezbollah make Lebanon pay the price for its actions, hijack the whole country, make decisions alone? The government was not informed (of the capture of Israeli soldiers) and does not bear the responsibility nor adopts this action. Is such a thing reasonable?”
Hassan Nasrallah: Very good. So let us say that we start to address the political situation. But first I want to conclude the first part (devoted to the military situation).
Since we talked about the ground, strikes and settlements, I want to speak to the (Palestinian) family who was hit in the city of Nazareth: in my name and on behalf of my brothers, I apologize to this family, and of course, an apology is not enough, I take full responsibility. This was in no way our intention, but anyway, those who were killed in Nazareth, we consider them martyrs of Palestine, of Lebanon, of the (Arab-Muslim) Community and of the Resistance. In any serious and violent confrontation of that level, such mistakes may occur. I extend my condolences and apologies to them, and I humbly hope they will accept my condolences and apologies. That said between brackets.
I now approach the political aspect. Regarding the political situation, first, if we want to talk about the international community, it has never been on our side (in History), not one day, for us to say that today it is no longer with us, besieging us, abandoning and forsaking us: it has always been like that, and it was even mostly against us. For example, we are on the list of US terrorist organizations since the creation of this list. We are among the first to be designated as such. And there are also a number of European countries that put us on their list of terrorist organizations. The international community’s position is clearly (alongside Israel), and therefore, we are not surprised by its current position, and we never counted on it, absolutely never.
The international community adopts international Resolutions that Israel has never applied at all. Even the (1978) Resolution 425 (requiring Israel to withdraw from Lebanon) has not been applied by Israel (voluntarily), it is we who have imposed it on them (by force from 1982 to 2000). All decisions related to the Palestinian cause have never been applied in anything by Israel, even those on the occupied Arab territories (in 1967). That’s the first aspect. But this is not a new element for us, nor a pressure factor.
Regarding certain positions of Arab (countries), of course, it’s new, it’s true. It’s new. In the past, some Arab regimes abandoned the Resistance and Lebanon. And today, we accept from the Arab regimes… I am very precise and factual. We accept them to be neutral, nothing more (because we know it is the maximum we can expect from them). And in the past, we accepted this neutral position from them. If you consider Hezbollah speeches (since 1982)… Maybe our brothers in Palestine have a different approach, and it is their right, their conditions are much more difficult than ours. They keep attacking the (Arab) regimes, accusing and condemning them and their leaders, etc. But that is not present in our speech and in our practice. Why? Because we have forgotten them. What’s the point? If you consider that someone is present and exists, you can count on him or blame him. But if you consider that they are completely absent, that they do not exist, to count on them or blame them would be a vain exhaustion of your efforts, like boxing shadows.
Vis-à-vis the international community, once, we expected from them to condemn the executioner and to be compassionate with the victim. But we got to a point where we agree, we are satisfied that they condemn the executioner and the victim together. This has become our natural expectation that a resolution condemning both the executioner and the victim is issued, it is good (it is the maximum they can do)!
As for the Arab regimes, everything we expect from them (the maximum we can hope) is that they be neutral (and don’t plot against us). But for them to (support Israel)… And if they do not want to be neutral at worst let them equate us with Israel. We accept that they make the executioner and the victim equally (guilty). But for them to get involved in the victim’s blood effusion, and to cover the crimes of the executioner, this, I tell you (honestly), we did not expect it. Yes, is that a surprise? It is a surprise.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: [Inaudible] A surprise, yes, some days ago…
Hassan Nasrallah: (It does not change) anything, nothing at all.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: But they are essential countries, Eminent Sayed, founding countries who have a key position, who influence the Arab League and other Arab countries…
Hassan Nasrallah: Currently, we are in wartime. There is a lot of internal debate in Lebanon and among Arab countries. So let us leave this issue aside. We talked about accountability, but we too have a long list of people to hold accountable.
I agree and I add my voice to those who have said before me –that’s not my saying, this has been said before me and I confirm and repeat it–: I categorically affirm that the Israeli reaction to our capture of soldiers could have been severe but limited if an Arab and international cover had not been given to them.
Israel has not received a green light from the United States (to carry out its own operation), Professor Ghassan. Israel was informed of a US decision asking them (to attack Lebanon and) to end this issue (Hezbollah). As to the data that lead to the US decision, we leave that aside for the day of reckoning. The international community has not given a green light to Israel. The international community has provided Israel with a resolution to end the Resistance in Lebanon. And some Arab (countries) also came to provide cover (to the attack), to encourage Israel to persist in this battle, and to tell Israel that this is the golden, historical opportunity to end the Resistance in Lebanon.
And I tell you, the goal is not only to end the Resistance of Hezbollah in Lebanon. They want to do away with any desire or inclination to Resistance in Lebanon, whether by Hezbollah or anyone else. They want to lead the country to a stage where even the word “Resistance” is a condemned word, as well as the words “martyr”, “jihad”, “injured”, “steadfastness”, “resilience”, “Liberation”, “freedom”, “dignity”, “noble”, “honor”, “greatness”. All these words should be expunged from the Lebanese dictionary and vocabulary, from Lebanese newspapers, political conventions, political spirit and popular consciousness. That is what Israel is currently undertaking. This is needed by the United States to reorganize the region (according to their interests).
I affirm categorically, and we’ll talk about it the day of accounts, because today people do not know where the truth lies, but I will tell the whole truth: without the stance of some Arab (countries who supported the Israeli aggression), this war would not have lasted and it would have been over in a few hours. And then, in subsequent discussions, everyone could have said what they had to say, and we would have done the same.
Today, we do not ask (anything from anyone), and I do not expect anything from some Arab countries. I know the (Arab-Muslim) Community. If you ask me about it, I know that if we probed the hearts of all Arabs and Muslims, we would see that they are with us. (They can express their support by) remaining in front of their TVs, crying, feeling compassionate, and when they hear good news, they’d stand up, burst of joy, etc., and they’d cry and sympathize when hearing bad news; and if they have the opportunity to express their true position, they clearly express it. I have no doubt about it. I am confident that even some of the sons, daughters and wives of the Arab leaders (who support Israel) are with us.
But I say to the Arab leaders: I do not want your swords and I do not even want your hearts. It would be enough that they’d leave us alone, to put it colloquially (in Lebanese dialect), be neutral, do not worry about us, it would be good enough. You said what you had to say (Saudi Arabia condemned the capture of the soldiers, designating Hezbollah as “adventurers”), may God grant you health, (and please leave us alone and do not plot against us).
Today, a war is imposed on Lebanon, and its goal is the liquidation of anything closely or remotely related to Resistance and Resistants in Lebanon, and educating Lebanon by a crushing defeat inflicted by Israel, and in truth, the war against Lebanon ultimately seeks to liquidate the Palestinian cause. Everyone knows that massive intifada that began in Palestine was triggered in the footsteps of (the 2000) victory in Lebanon. What is happening in Palestine is a Palestinian copy of the Lebanese model, its continuity. Well, today, when you come to destroy the Lebanese model, what do you say to Palestine? “You need to despair (to achieve anything by Resistance).”
Today, when all these massacres are perpetrated in Lebanon and no one in the Arab world or in the international community reacts, we should expect that tomorrow, more serious atrocities still will be perpetrated against the Palestinian people, worse than anything suffered by Gaza so far, and no one in the world will lift a finger.
Therefore, defeating the Resistance in Lebanon means from their perspective defeating the Resistance in the region, ending the Palestinian cause and imposing Israel’s conditions for the resolution (of the conflict). As was stated (by the Secretary General of the Arab League) Amr Moussa, “It’s over, there is no peace process anymore.” There was an (allegedly) honest broker, that has never been honest or impartial if only one day (the US), but today, the peace process has been fully placed in Olmert’s hands. And before Olmert, Bush enjoined the Arabs and the Palestinians to accept what Sharon gave them. We should accept the crumbs they propose.
This is the objective of the aggression against Lebanon. This is in no way a reaction to the capture of two soldiers, the question far exceeds that. But I confirm to you that they will fail in their objectives, if we want to discuss the results.
As for what you asked, about why I did not inform or ask (the Lebanese authorities before the capture of the Israeli soldiers).
First, the Ministerial Statement of the current Government, to which we contributed, clearly states the adoption of the Resistance by the Government, and its natural right to liberate the (occupied Lebanese) territory and the (Lebanese) prisoners (held by Israel). Well, how could the Resistance free the prisoners? Should we go (intercede) with George Bush? I do not have the possibility to do so, and it’s out of the question anyway, okay? And when we speak of the rights of the Resistance, we do not talk of the rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we talk about the rights of armed Resistance, and it is confirmed in the Ministerial Statement, our right to liberate the territory and the prisoners. I am the Resistance, I have weapons (what can I do but use them)? That’s the first point. This Government’s Ministerial Statement was issued on the basis of the confidence of the Chamber of Deputies. That’s the first point.
Second, on the negotiating table –because some people say that the Sayyed (Nasrallah) had announced (the capture of enemy soldiers project) or not. Records exist. It is true that I said that we will maintain peace on the border, it was our policy, but there was two exceptions. I spoke about four points in all.
On these four points, two points could be delayed, adjourned, postponed, no problem. It is 1 / the perpetuation of the occupation of the (Lebanese) Shebaa Farms, for which we can take our time, because it is a limited piece of land, and we will not start a war such as the one currently taking place to liberate these farms, and 2 / air and sea violations, and even land violations, we can bear them. It is true that there are (daily Israeli) violations of our sovereignty, and we must condemn them, but will we put everything upside down for this? No.
And there are two points that could not tolerate being delayed: 1 / the prisoners, because (to end their suffering and their families’) is a humanitarian cause, and 2 / aggression against civilians.
And I told them on more than one occasion that on the issue of prisoners, we were very serious, and that this could only be resolved by the capture of Israeli soldiers. I clearly pointed it out. Of course, I did not tell them “I’ll capture Israeli soldiers in such day of July”, it is absolutely impossible. Except…
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Excuse me, you informed them that you were going to capture Israeli soldiers?
Hassan Nasrallah: I told them that we were determined to to solve the prisoner issue, and that it would be resolved only by the capture of Israeli soldiers.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: You told them this clearly?
Hassan Nasrallah: In all clarity. And nobody told me “No, we forbid you to capture Israeli soldiers”. And they would not have had the right to stop us, even if they did (we would not have obeyed), I’m not trying to defend myself. And I mentioned that we were going to capture Israeli soldiers during meetings with some of the main political leaders. I will not mention their names now, but I will at the reckoning. They then asked me, “If this happens, will the prisoners issue be ended for good?” And I said that, obviously, we would then close the issue of prisoners.
And I can confirm to you that our calculations were not wrong, and I do not exaggerate. Worldwide, dear master, around the whole world, you will not find any example of a State, an Army or a War that was triggered against a State because some people captured or kidnapped two soldiers, or even took hostages, not soldiers or military personnel. This has never happened in History, and Israel itself has never done anything like this. But today, what is happening is not a reaction to the capture of two soldiers. I repeat, it is an international decision supported behind the scenes by (certain) Arab (countries). And this decision is linked …
I guarantee you that if we had not captured the two soldiers in July, possibly in July, August or September, at least within a limited time, Israel would have entered this battle and made up any excuse, any pretext (to launch this war). Because enough is enough: the liquidation of the weapons of the Resistance and of the Resistance itself can neither be done inside (Lebanon), nor via the regional situation, nor on the negotiating table . And the United States clearly understood that this would never be resolved internally.
Therefore, “O Lebanese, move aside, and open the way for Israel to finish off Hezbollah and remove his weapons, but we need support (behind the scenes).” And they went looking for international and Arabic support. This is the reality of the situation.
And lastly, I declare to you that worldwide, no Resistance will proceed differently: if I want to capture two Israeli soldiers, we need (Hezbollah’s) political leadership to make the decision and communicate it to me. But it is not necessary that my (Hezbollah) brothers know the hour, the moment, the specific place, etc. If 60 or 70 people know these details, can the operation be successful? Never. So do not even suggest that we should inform a Government composed of 24 ministers, three Presidents, various political forces and political disputes, etc. At the (intra-Lebanese) negotiating table, we discuss and negotiate, and one hour after the meetings, all that happened during our meeting is known to the (Western) embassies. You want me to declare to the world that I am about to take prisoners? It is not logical.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: But Eminent Sayed, it seems that you lay the blame (of war) on the opposing party (USA / Israel), saying they had this (longstanding) project (to eradicate the Resistance), and that the capture of two (Israeli) soldiers was only a pretext. But some say the exact opposite, and at least the statement of the (Lebanese political) March 14 alliance (opposed to Hezbollah) and its political statements were very clear: (they say that) what happened is part of a Syrian-Iranian project; that by your action, you brought the country to the situation before March 14 (2005, assassination of Rafik Hariri and withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon); that you thereby serve the project of Iran, which is currently fighting against the United States in this regard; Syria now wants to regain its influence in Lebanon by this route; (in short), you have turned the situation upside down by your action.
Hassan Nasrallah: Very good. It is good that we discuss this. This symphony is recurring in Lebanon. (Our opponents) play it endlessly, whatever we do, in any case, they (always throw) Iran and Syria (at our face).
Let me begin directly by the capture of prisoners. It is true that I have not informed the Lebanese government, but I have not informed my closest allies. Syria was not informed. Iran was not informed. There is absolutely no Syrian or Iranian who was aware of it. First, they are not aware, and I have not sought advice from any of them. We are a Resistance present in Lebanon, we have prisoners in Israeli jails, it is our natural right to bring them back with us, a long and explicit Ministerial Statement confirms this right, and we therefore took action. This is the whole story.
If we analyze the facts afterwards to determine whether Syria is the one who told us to do this, we realize that these allegations are ridiculous and shameful, and it is the same for Iran. Why would Syria want Hezbollah to do such an operation? It is the analysis of some politicians (in Lebanon), who claim that it would be to postpone or terminate the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL, tasked to identify the killers of Rafik Hariri). This is childish. Why is this theory preposterous?
Today the international community is monopolized by the war against Lebanon. But in one, two, three weeks, a month, it will be over. And in August, (at the latest) in September, the STL will resume its work. Can anyone believe that a war of this nature will neutralize the STL if the will of the international community is to maintain it? That’s the first point. (Such inconsistent theories) make fun of the people, and only simple-minded people could believe them. And I’ll tell you what the purpose of this (manipulation) is: it aims to strip the Resistance in Lebanon of its patriotism, its ethics and its humanity, and to present it as a party or a group that is only a tool of Syria and Iran, works for the interests of Syria and Iran and ignores or tramples Lebanese interests, and even acts at the expense of Lebanon’s interests. This is regarding the Syrian issue.
As for Iran, if a war happens in Lebanon, after two or three months it will end. How long can it last? It will eventually come to an end. And what will it change for the Iranian nuclear issue? What will it change? On the contrary, I declare to you that if there is a relationship (between the war) and the Iranian nuclear issue, the war that is being waged today against Lebanon is not in the interest of the Iranian nuclear issue. The United States and Israel always took into account in their calculations that if war against Iran was launched, Hezbollah may intervene on the side of Iran. If we strike Hezbollah just now, what does it mean? It weakens Iran in the Iranian nuclear issue, it does not strengthen it. How do they read the political situation?
What is happening now from our part is a defense (of the interests of Lebanon), with no connection to the STL or the will to end the STL, this is the most ridiculous statement, and I hope that no one will utter it again.
O my brother, on May 10, we went down to protest in the streets to defend the workers’ rights, to shout our refusal to see the people starved, to defend social gains and refuse submission to the dictates of the IMF, and (these same opponents) accused us of destroying the country and wanting to end the STL. Today, we captured (Israeli) prisoners to end the file of (Lebanese) prisoners (held by Israel), a war was imposed on us, and we find ourselves accused of having started a war to end the STL. Such remarks are shameful. This question has nothing to do with Syria and nothing to do with Iran.
And I want to add something else: Hezbollah has always, absolutely always given the priority to Lebanese national interests over all other considerations. And at the (intra-Lebanese) negotiating table, I submitted this point in the debate, and I asked them: “You know us since 23 or 24 years. I can say to all of you –the majority, not at all– which battle he conducted that was not in the interest of Lebanon, but in the interest of other countries. But show me an action of Hezbollah in Lebanon and a war in which Hezbollah fought that was in the interests of foreign powers and not in the interests of Lebanon.” They were unable to give a single example. Someone mentioned the (Western) hostages issue (1982-1992). I replied that firstly, it is not Hezbollah who captured the hostages. And secondly, the organizations that have captured the hostages in 1982 and 1983 helped by their efforts to secure the release of hundreds of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails, and especially in the Atlit military prison. And there are witnesses, because among those who participated in the negotiations (as intermediaries), there is the President of the Chamber of Deputies Nabih Berri. Therefore, even those hostages were taken to (save) Lebanese (citizens), and not for Iranian and Syrian interests. And Hezbollah has no role in the hostage issue.
I challenged them to give me one such example, and I repeat it today: “Give me a single example, before this war where you accuse us (once again of serving foreign interests), to support this accusation, where we did anything that is contrary to national interests.”
We are a large political force –at the national level; Lebanon is a small country, but I am speaking in relative terms. I claim that Hezbollah is Lebanon’s largest political party. And in terms of military force, the question does not even need to be asked: the main today is the Resistance (Hezbollah). As for popular support, the question does not need to be asked either: I say that Hezbollah is the largest popular movement in Lebanon. But this political, military, massive and popular force, tell me how we benefited from it in Lebanon, even for our party interests, or even with regard to the interests of the sect (Shiite) to which we belong, because of the sectarian constitution of the country. Never have we served our own interests in anything. We have always made concessions in the national interest. As Hezbollah or masses supporting the Resistance, I do not need to defend myself regarding the defense of the national interest.
I say today that we lead the war of national interest because Israel wants to humiliate and subjugate Lebanon and take control of it. And if Israel wins this war, any government that will be formed in Lebanon will have to obtain the agreement of Olmert and the Israeli Mossad. It will no longer need to obtain the approval of the US ambassador, the French ambassador and the British ambassador only, there will be a 4th person who will have to agree regarding the electoral law, the formation of the government, the new President of the Republic, etc., etc., etc., and I mean Olmert.
I categorically reject any accusation of this nature, and affirm that the aim of these accusations is to deny the Resistance its humanity, ethics, patriotism and jihad (defensive war). People know me –let me emphasize this last point. People know me well. Today… In general, I do not like to talk about myself. Today, before civilian homes got destroyed, it is the homes of Hezbollah commanders and executives who were destroyed. Cite me one of my brothers (Hezbollah leaders) known whose house was not destroyed. Today, the families of Hezbollah cadres are refugees, like all refugees. So with regard to the price, it is mainly we who pay it (because our families and property are targeted in priority). Today, our children, our families, our relatives, our loved and beloved ones are on the battlefield. Nobody is hiding nowhere. The whole of Hezbollah is engaged in the war. All the masses of Hezbollah are engaged in war.
Are we, me and my brothers, crazy to the point of sacrificing our lives, our families, our honorable masses, our children and loved ones to get Syria back to Lebanon? Or to delay the action of the STL? Or for the Iranian nuclear issue? Who can utter such nonsense? It is insulting, really insulting, in every sense of the word insult. It is an affront to our patriotism, our commitment.
Yes, we are friends of Syria and friends of Iran. But for 24 years, we have benefited from our friendship with Syria and with Iran only for the sake of Lebanon. There are other people who have taken advantage of their friendship with Syria for their seats, their homes, their wealth and their bank accounts. But for me, show me a single bank account. Show me the palace which I built with my relations with the Syrians in Lebanon. You will not find anything like that. Hezbollah has used this friendship in Lebanon’s interest.
Today, Hezbollah is not fighting for Syria, nor Iran, but for Lebanon. And yes, the result of the war in Lebanon will be in Palestine. If we are victorious, Palestine will be victorious, and if, God forbid, we are defeated, our brothers in Palestine will be subjected to extremely harsh conditions. But with God’s help, there will be only victory (for Hezbollah).
Ghassan bin Jiddo: In this war, what does victory mean, and what does defeat mean? What will you consider as a victory? And what are the signs of a defeat for us or for the world?
Hassan Nasrallah: If we defend ourselves successfully, that’s victory. In 1996, how happened our victory? The Israeli military operation hasn’t achieved any of its objectives. That is all. And Hezbollah remained, the Hezbollah Resistance was maintained.
It is not us who started the war and launched a major offensive. Yes, we took two prisoners. But we have not launched a major offensive. We have not started, on the very moment we captured the two soldiers, to bomb Nahariya, Haifa, Tabariya, Safed, leading things to war, in any case. Even in the escalation, Israel was much quicker than us. We have exercised restraint, hoping that things would stop there, because we did not want to lead our country to war. But they went to war, so we did.
Victory in this war does not imply that Hezbollah seizes the north of Palestine, and liberates Nahariya, Haifa and Tabariya, it is neither our desire nor our slogan. It would be a long operation involving Palestine, the (Arab-Muslim) Community, it is a whole other matter. Victory for us means that the Resistance continues, and it will be victory. That the determination of the Resistance is not broken, it will be victory. That Lebanon is not humiliated, its dignity and honor preserved, that Lebanon continues to face alone the fiercest armies in the region, successfully resists and does not accept humiliating terms to resolve the conflict, it will be victory. That we are not defeated militarily, it will be victory. As long as there is one single missile launched from Lebanon and targeting the Zionists, as long as a single Resistant continues to fire his rifle, as long as a single fighter places a mine to trap the Israelis, it will mean that the Resistance is still present (and this is a victory).
And I tell you frankly, today, when we are in the 8th or 9th day of war –according to which day is considered the 1st (Israel claims that the war was triggered on July 12, with the capture of its soldiers, and Hezbollah consider the 1st day to be July 13)–, we consider that we have already achieved some victory. Our survival and steadfastness until now means victory. We are fighting (alone) against Israel! I always said, even at the negotiating table, that we do not underestimate Israel. What, are we currently fighting a militia, a party, an organization, the army of a poor or underdeveloped country? Of course not. We know that we are fighting an army that defeated several Arab armies at once (in 1948, 1967, 1973). But we fought, and with the help of God, we defeated them (in 2000), and we continue to fight today. And therefore, our support and our steadfastness to this day is a victory, the fact that we have absorbed the strikes is a victory, and the fact that we continue to fight is a victory.
As well, the enemy begins to review its objectives downwards. The first day it was out of the question (for Israel) to negotiate (with us). But today, Israel begins to talk of opening negotiations. The first day, Israel claimed it would annihilate Hezbollah. I evoked the matter quickly before, and I told you that I will return to it in the political section. Today, nobody talks, even among Israeli officials, to finish off Hezbollah. They do not even aim to dismantle Hezbollah. Today, they speak either of withdrawing the weapons of Hezbollah, or of weakening the ballistic capability of Hezbollah. Even the destruction of the military power of Hezbollah is not a military objective (anymore). The Israelis now understand that through military force, they will fail to dismantle the military structure of Hezbollah or its ballistic power. They will try to do it politically. It is a (huge) failure for Israel. And any failure for Israel is a success, an achievement, a victory for Hezbollah.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: In this respect, Eminent Sayed, what are your demands now? You talk about negotiations. Do they only ask you, now, to liberate your two (Israeli) prisoners unconditionally, or is there something else? We heard the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs tell the broker, Germany, to start negotiations. What is asked of you? There is the UN delegation, (Javier) Solana (High Representative of the European Union), etc.
Hassan Nasrallah: As for the UN, its behaviour with the Lebanese Government was inappropriate. The UN delegation came, contacted Lebanese officials, and advanced the idea that a comprehensive cease-fire agreement would require that Hezbollah hands over the two prisoners to the Lebanese government, the Lebanese government begins negotiations for a prisoner exchange within a month and that in light of these negotiations, we would see how things evolve. And those to whom the UN has spoken…
Our authorized channel –and I announce this– for political contacts in this regard, is [Chamber of Deputies] Speaker Nabih Birri for many reasons. Of course, we are present in the government, we are in contact with its members, this is natural. However, for us, Speaker Nabih Birri is the side with which contacts and negotiations are held, and we are in constant contact with him. Of course, we are in constant touch with our friends and allies in Lebanon, and regarding the basic issues that we might reach, we will certainly hold some consultations.
What was conveyed to us and what we understood was this offer (handing over the captured soldiers to the Lebanese government). The offer reached me, and I am not authorized to reply to it by myself (Hezbollah has a collective leadership). Of course, I have my personal opinion, but I can not commit Hezbollah to my personal opinion. So I informed Nabih Berri that I needed time to gather the leaders of Hezbollah, and you know the current security conditions for the brothers (Hezbollah leaders). And we have no right to make any mistakes in this regard (bringing all leaders in one place causes a risk of decapitation of Hezbollah). Anyway, the UN delegation said they would go to occupied Palestine the same night, and I said well, let them go first submit this offer to Israel and then return, and meanwhile, we will talk with the brothers. The fact that I am ready to discuss about this offer does not mean that I will accept or reject it, because ultimately, I am bound by a collective leadership, and I have to consult them before announcing our decision.
The UN delegation went to occupied Palestine, and did not even return to Lebanon to inform us of the outcome. They simply transmitted the reply, namely a rejection of this offer (by Israel). In fact, this proposal of the UN delegation failed, and they did not even need me to answer them because it got buried. I should only discuss issues that are really open to discussion, it serves no purpose to debate about accepting or rejecting things that are not even real offers (that is a dangerous waste of time).
As for Solana, when he came, it was only to give us the Israeli conditions. He came to Lebanon to summon us to release the prisoners and implement resolution 1559 (calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah). In truth, Solana even set the bar higher than what the Israelis proposed and what they talk about today.
Here is my information about the “serious” contacts that have taken place so far.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: And regarding the German intermediary?
Hassan Nasrallah: There has been no contact (between us and Germany). Anyway, what I heard is that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the enemy asked them to get in touch with us to negotiate the liberation (of the Israeli soldiers) without exchange (of prisoners). Maybe they also want us to offer them a bottle of perfume along with their two soldiers. It’s absolutely impossible.
Anyway, on the issue of negotiations, even with regard to the prisoners, I want to relieve myself and Hezbollah: anyone who wants to address this issue, let him get in touch with the State (Lebanon), and the State will then speak to us. I will not receive any intermediate, be him German, French, English, Russian, Chinese or from any country whatsoever. Today, Hezbollah is in a situation where his attention is captured by the war, which is its priority. Let them speak with officials at the State level, to whom we will talk then, and we will give the required answers.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Do you still insist on the principle of (a prisoner) exchange?
Hassan Nasrallah: Of course. It is impossible to abandon this principle, it would be unforgivable. Moreover, I tell you that (Lebanese) civilians who found martyrdom, refugees who today suffer the horrors of the exodus, those who bravely endure this war, if they knew that I was ready to hand over or return the two soldiers without closing the case (of the Lebanese prisoners), they’d accuse me of treason, and myself, I would accuse myself of treason. It is absolutely inconceivable (that these soldiers be released without the liberation of our prisoners).
I said from day one: even if all the Creation gathered against us, it would fail to recover the two Israeli soldiers except through indirect negotiations and a prisoner exchange.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: But you said this before (the war)…
Hassan Nasrallah: After all we have been through, what could we still be afraid of, Professor Ghassan, what can they still do to us (that they have not already done)? We feared for the infrastructure, they destroyed it. There was concern for civilians, they killed them (by hundreds). There was concern for the exodus, our people fled (by hundreds of thousands). We feared for our and people’s homes, they have been destroyed. And after all that, you would want us to come and say, “Here are your soldiers. Please, do not be angry against us and forgive us?” It’s impossible.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Regarding the exchange Eminent Sayed, who will you exchange the two Israeli soldiers with? Lebanese prisoners, Palestinian, etc. ?
Hassan Nasrallah: This is an open process, and I will leave it to negotiations.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Are you still confident that Samir Qintar will soon be (free) in Lebanon?
Hassan Nasrallah: Yes, with God’s grace. First, in this exchange, the first (Lebanese prisoner concerned) is Samir Qintar. If we do not include Samir Qintar in the exchange, if at least all Lebanese prisoners are not included… Of course, I am talking about an open process, but if we do not include those, what meaning will have this exchange?
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Eminent Sayed, regarding your agreement with Michel Aoun – let us leave aside the other parties. Has what is currently taking place shaken your Memorandum of understanding with the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM, Christian party)? Is it canceled?
Hassan Nasrallah: No, absolutely not, under any circumstances. I assure you that our agreement with the FPM clearly evokes the liberation of the prisoners and of the rest of the occupied territories. And only after that, we were to discuss the national defense strategy (to implement). It is on this that we have agreed.
Hezbollah is not using Lebanon to liberate Palestine or the seven historically Lebanese villages (occupied today by Israel). We made a prisoner capture operation because in our Memorandum, in our discussions, and in the Ministerial Declaration of the Government, the liberation of prisoners and of the rest of the (Lebanese) occupied territories were clearly mentioned. What we have done so is a Lebanese patriotic act, even in the most reductive sense. And it is within and not beyond our agreement with the FPM.
Of course, I’m following the statements of General Aoun and the FPM leaders and I think their position is wise, appropriate, dignified and patriotic, and I approve it. And many political forces and personalities – before you ask me names – also have a similar position. I beg you not to ask me for names, because if I say that this is the case of so-and-so and so-and-so, this will indicate that this is not the case of those I would not have mentioned. I do not want to get into that. You asked me for the FPM (and I answered, let us not go further).
Moreover, about your question on the FPM, the efforts that this party has made in many areas are considerable. We heard about their assistance to the refugees and displaced persons, and these efforts are very beautiful and positive. I do not consider that our agreement has been broken. I do not consider that. Eventually, things will be clarified further.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Eminent Sayed, if you are completely reassured regarding the military situation, what do you fear? Do you fear the internal or the external (situation)…
Hassan Nasrallah: First, we fear no one but God the Almighty and Exalted. Second, be absolutely assured that we fear nothing domestically. Our enemies are trying to revive sectarian tensions, but they know that this is a dangerous game. True, it is dangerous to for the Resistance, but it is also dangerous to their project in the country. This is a danger to the Cedar Revolution (supported by the West). This is a danger to the great democratic model mentioned by George Bush. By the way, democracy in Lebanon is older than the entire Bush family. This is a danger to (all) the country. If they revive tensions between Sunnis and Shiites, Christians and Muslims, Druze and Shiite Muslims, etc., it is very dangerous for the country, and moreover, it is not suitable for their current projects.
Today, the United States are playing on the sectarian divisions, trying to revive tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, and it is linked to peace treaties, the presence in power, etc., intimidation, the killings here and there, and I hold the US responsible for what happens in Iraq. And I know what the US are saying to Shiites in Iraq, what they say to Sunnis and what they say to the Kurds. But today (in Lebanon), they can not encourage…
Take for example the Sunnis. Can the US incite them against us, the Shiites? For what reason or excuse? What wrong did we do? Will they tell them that the Shiites in Lebanon are the agents of the United States? Can anyone believe that? Will they tell them that the Shiites in Lebanon are the agents of Israel? That the Shiites in Lebanon have abandoned the Palestinian cause? That the Shiites in Lebanon see their Palestinian brethren slaughtered in Gaza and collaborated in the massacre by informing Israel? Who would believe such (aberrant) things?
For example, how many times have we heard, even in the latest statement of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (leader of al Qaeda in Iraq), Hezbollah designated as the protectors of the borders (of Israel), with whom we’d collaborate, accusing us of being traitors and conspirators? And many have questioned the victory of 2000, saying it was an agreement between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah on the one hand, and Israel on the other. Everything we hear about the Shiite crescent or whatnot, (these are sales pitches that only the ignorant can believe).
Today, of course, one of the most important results of this war – we did not want this war, it was imposed on us and we went into it – is that on the Sunni-Shia issue, a great rampart was erected (against sectarian discourse) in the Arab and Muslim world (because of the union of hearts against Israel). I’m not saying that it ended the sedition and trials, no, but it greatly fortified (and united the Arab-Muslim world).
Today, we Shiites are fighting Israel. Our fighting and steadfastness is a victory to our brothers in Palestine, who are Sunnis and not Shiites. Therefore, we, Sunnis and Shiites, are fighting side by side against Israel, which is supported, covered and reinforced by the United States. And I say to you that even if Olmert arrives at a point where he said to the United States that he can not continue the war, Bush will say, “No, you must (absolutely) continue. And if you have problems, I will solve them for you.” Therefore, today… That’s what I was talking about when I mentioned (in my previous speech) the battle of the whole (Arab-Muslim) Community. And you gave me the opportunity to develop this. I do not fight on behalf of the Community, no. But I say that the outcome of the war waged by the Hezbollah in Lebanon, whether positive or negative, will be a result for the whole Community: a defeat in Lebanon will be a defeat for the Community, and a victory in Lebanon will be a victory for the Community, as happened in 2000.
Therefore, it is difficult to encourage Sunnis against Shiites. Will they accuse us of destroying the country? O my brother, the southern suburbs of Beirut (Dahiyeh, Shiite stronghold) is completely destroyed. I wish all the cities and all Lebanese regions peace and good. Thank God, many cities and regions of Lebanon have suffered no harm, and may God make them suffer no harm. In the war that was imposed on us, we can not say that cities are destroyed, but ours are preserved; that houses are destroyed, and ours are preserved. No. In the war that was imposed on us, in the front line, we find our homes, our neighborhoods, our villages – because, unfortunately, of the sectarian division of the country –, our families, our children, our dear and beloved beings, and ourselves, our blood and our lives that are sacrificed in this battle. This sectarian logic is not acceptable.
Inciting the Christians and Druze… Perhaps I talked too much about the Sunni issue, because the atmosphere in the country is an atmosphere of incitement between Shi’is and Sunnis. I assure you that I do not fear any sedition, neither between Muslims and Christians, nor between Shi’is and Sunnis in Lebanon. And so far, the people behave reasonably and wisely despite the difficulty of the trial, and the majority of political leaders also behave reasonably, consciously and wisely, and I support them. We must preserve our unity at this point, and this is what I called for on the first day in my (July 12) press conference. We all have our say, our calculations, people to hold accountable, questions, debates, etc. All this will come in time (after the war).
Ghassan bin Jeddo: Eminent Sayed, what does it mean to you when the (Lebanese) army says that it will fight if a ground attack is launched against Lebanon, especially when such a statement is made by the defence minister? He, along with the army commander and senior officers, said that they will be in the field to fight the “Battle of honour”. What does that mean to you?
Hassan Nasrallah: This is not new to this army, this institution, these leaders and these cadres. Before the Liberation (in 2000), we offered martyrs side by side in the battle of Mount Rafi ‘and Arabsalim (South Lebanon), there were martyrs of the Lebanese army as well as martyrs of the Resistance (Hezbollah). The Lebanese army has always confronted, to the extent of its (limited) capabilities, (Israeli) aircraft and any aggression that occurred against the country. But of course, the military capabilities are modest – as are the means of the Resistance, we do not declare that our means are huge, they are modest. However, the army has the same will and bravery that the Resistance has. The difference between the army and the Resistance is that the first is a classic formal institution, and the second is a popular Resistance which resorts to guerrilla warfare. It is expected and it is a natural thing that the army would be alongside the Resistance. This position has been proven before by this leadership and institution.
On this occasion, I would like to address His Excellency the Defense minister, the Commander of the army, the officers, members, and ranks of the army, chief of whom His Excellency the President of the Republic and the Lebanese Government, being the political authority of the army, to extend them our condolences for the death of the martyrs from the officers and soldiers of the Army. Anyway, sacrifice, loyalty and honor are their attributes. This is what we expect from this institution.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Before asking you what your last word is, I noticed, Eminent Sayed, that you seem to be living a normal life. I expected to see you wearing a military uniform so to speak, but as usual, you are following what is being said on television, political comments and declarations…
Hassan Nasrallah: It is difficult to accurately characterize the situation. Talking about a normal life would be an exaggeration. We are in times of war, and with my brothers, we fully live this state of war. I have seen for example that for my second speech – the first time I spoke was live on air (audio only), while the second speech was a recorded video, and of course, due to the (exceptional) circumstances, the video has been copied multiple times (before being released) and the final quality was poor. And I saw that the Israeli media said that my beard was long, the light was (too) strong, and whatnot (claiming it was a sign of our major difficulties in the battlefield). I am in a state of war. I am not in a picnic. [Laughs] And when I decided to meet you, I trimmed my beard, so that they would not say that my beard is too long.
What will they say now? This time, they will say that I am sitting and relaxing while people are being displaced. That’s not true. We do not want to exaggerate, we describe things as they are. If I do not smile, they will say it is because we are scared and terrified, whereas this is not the case. And if I smile, they will say that our people is being slaughtered, children, women, old people, and that I am laughing, and therefore do not care about the blood of this people. Nevertheless, the psychological war will never end (whatever you do, they will have something to say).
It is obvious that we are affected by all the destruction that hit our country, but we are even more affected by the human losses. I’m surprised that some would cry for the destruction of a bridge, but a bridge can be rebuilt, a house too, and all the material damage can be repaired. All they will be rebuilt by the grace of God, it is an irrevocable decision.Ghassan bin Jiddo: By whom?Hassan Nasrallah: By the government and by Hezbollah. And I’ll tell you why. When we’ll get involved in the reconstruction, with considerable sums of money to do this, it will force the United States, the West and the wealthy Gulf States to also provide money to Lebanon in order to tell people they have participated. Because (in their eyes), if Hezbollah is the only one to rebuild, he will take over the country. So we will also be the cause of much benefit.
Be convinced that if we forsook the reconstruction, the (required) money would be granted with political conditions. The fact that we intervene in the reconstruction, our direct financial aid to help Lebanon will push others to give money, perhaps even without any political conditions, because they will see that there are already (Hezbollah) that distributes money without political conditions.
In this regard, yes, we are in pain because of the children, women, and the displaced. But this is a war. It is a true battle. And they [Israelis] are also in pain. We have half a million refugees, a million at most, but they have two million, between those who are holed up in shelters and the displaced. The Lebanese economy (is suffering), but it was always in deficit, there has never been a Lebanese economy standing on both legs. While since we hit Haifa and to this day, the Israeli stock exchange has lost billions of dollars. So far, the direct losses in the north of occupied Palestine, just direct losses, not to mention their impact on the rest of the Israeli economy, and without indirect losses, are $100 million per day. So there are both casualties and economic loss, and you know that for Israel, the economic losses are more important than anything, (losses of) lives and (at) the economic and financial level (are unbearable for them). Ultimately, we suffer and they suffer too.
And we will be steadfast in this confrontation, until victory, and I explained the meaning of victory for us. I’m not saying that I live a normal life, and I do not say that I live an abnormal life. Like many of my brothers, I live the life imposed on us by war. Let no one think that we are afraid, worried, scared or whatnot… For 23 years, we talked to people, we urged them and we mingled with them (despite the risks) to speak about martyrdom, about the (exalted) honor and status conferred to the martyr. Do the Zionists or those who encourage them imagine that me or such other Hezbollah leaders are afraid of martyrdom? We fervently aspire to martyrdom! If we take our precautions, it’s because we don’t want the enemy (who seeks to kill us at any price) to achieve any success. But regarding our project and our personal aspirations, all of us hope and pray that God prescribes us martyrdom at the hands of these people, the murderers of Prophets and Messengers, and the people most hostile to the believers according to the Quran. And I can even tell you that some brothers fear not to be killed in this war which might be the last one (before the extinction of Israel). God only knows: maybe this will not be the last, maybe it will be. We have no fear or anxiety about it, we are steadfast by the Grace of God, and we’ll hopefully win a great victory by the help of the Most High.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Do you have a last word?
Hassan Nasrallah: Finally, I wish to thank all those who sympathized with us, who have helped us and supported us. May God reward them. And by the grace of God, if God grant us victory and the results we expect, all those who supported us at this stage by offering their cooperation and showing us their honour and nobility, we will never forget them as long as we live. For it is a decisive battle. As for those who have harmed us, who chose the wrong camp, abandoned us, betrayed us, worked and plotted against us – because they are varying degrees (of betrayal) – the day to settle accounts will come, and we might forgive (certain things) or not.
Currently, in our case, the priority is to emerge victorious from this battle, head high, all Lebanon, the homeland, the people, the State, the Resistance, the military forces ardently attached to Lebanon, its dignity and honor. In all truth, I say that this is the real battle of the independence of Lebanon. If we win this battle, this means that we, the Lebanese people, will tell the whole world that we will be the (only) decision-makers (in Lebanon). Even the foreign embassies that currently interfere in our internal situation, we will tell them, “No, do not interfere in our affairs.” This is the battle for our true independence. And that is why we are determined to continue to resist.
I thank those who have helped us, but I repeat that I do not ask anything from anyone, like (I said) on the first day and until the last day. Let people assume their responsibilities, the leaders, governments, peoples, the (Arab and Muslim) Community, anyone who wants to do something is free to do so. Whether they want to do something or not (in this battle), I ask nothing from mankind, nothing from the governments and nothing from the peoples. From day one, this has been our education: before, after, now and forever, we ask only from God, the Almighty and Exalted. To Him we ask for help, and it is from Him that we derive our assurance, our strength, our morale, our confidence, our hope and victory, by His Grace. And anyway, the coming days will show us where things are heading.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Thank you, Eminent Sayed, for this meeting. Thank you, dear viewers, for joining us and see you soon, God willing. With my respects, Ghassan bin Jiddo, God bless you.