Hezbollah chief says shelling on Israel will stop only when ‘aggression’ on Gaza ends

By Thomson Reuters Feb 13, 2024 | 9:57 AM

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah said on Tuesday that his armed group’s cross-border shelling into Israel would only end when Israel’s “aggression” on the Gaza Strip stops, saying diplomatic efforts so far to bring a halt to hostilities along Lebanon’s border seemed to only benefit Israel.

Iran-backed Hezbollah has been trading fire with the Israeli military across Lebanon’s southern border in support of its Palestinian ally Hamas, which launched a cross-border assault from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Oct. 7 that was met with heavy Israeli bombardment by land, air and sea.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said his group would only stop its exchanges of fire if a full ceasefire was reached for Gaza.

“On that day, when the shooting stops in Gaza, we will stop the shooting in the south,” he said in a televised address.

He said many foreign “delegations” had travelled to Beirut with “proposals” to end hostilities in southern Lebanon, but said they only seemed to “have one goal, which is: the security of Israel, the protection of Israel.”

The foreign ministers of France, Britain, and other countries have travelled to Lebanon in recent weeks in an attempt to bring calm to the border.

France’s foreign minister delivered a written proposal to Beirut that calls for fighters including Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit to withdraw 10 km (6 miles) from the border, among other measures, according to a document seen by Reuters.

Without specifying the French proposal, Nasrallah said one delegation had “presented a paper as a mediator”.

“You read the paper – there’s nothing. There’s Israel’s security,” he said.

Nasrallah said that if Israel widened the war further in Lebanon, his group would do the same.

The cross-border shelling has already killed around 200 people in Lebanon, including more than 170 Hezbollah fighters, as well as 10 Israeli troops and five Israeli civilians. It has also displaced tens of thousands of people in each country.

Nasrallah said residents of northern Israel “will not return” to their homes, and threatened that even more would be displaced.

(Reporting by Laila Bassam and Maya Gebeily; Editing by Alex Richardson and Jonathan Oatis)