‘Prepare to Invade Israel,’ Hezbollah Leader Tells Followers
Beirut (AP) – Hezbollah's leader told his Shiite guerrilla group Wednesday to be prepared to invade northern Israel, a day after Israel's defense minister warned that the quiet along the tense border could erupt into violence.
The comments by the two sides illustrate the fragile situation along the frontier since they Israel and Hezbollah fought a bitter, six-week war in the summer of 2006. The war ended in a U.N.-brokered truce but officials on both sides of the border believe it is only a matter of time before hostilities resume.
"I tell the holy warriors of the Islamic Resistance to be ready for a day when, if war is imposed on us, your command might ask you to control the Galilee area," Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech Wednesday. The Galilee refers to land in northern Israel.
On Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak toured the Israeli military's northern command and told soldiers there that the quiet along the frontier might not last.
"This is not forever and it could under certain conditions deteriorate, and then you will have to be called on again, with everything you learned in training," he said. "Today the units are better trained and more prepared but there is always more to be done and you need to be ready for every test."
Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war in 2006 that left 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis dead.
Also Wednesday, a Hezbollah cell commander who escaped from an Egyptian prison during the country's recent uprising appeared at the Hezbollah rally.
Mohammed Youssef Mansour, better known as Sami Chehab, held up a Hezbollah flag and raised his hands in a V-for-victory sign Wednesday during the rally in Beirut.
The Shiite militant group says that Mansour was among the thousands of prisoners across Egypt who are believed to have escaped or been set free shortly after the revolt against longtime President Hosni Mubarak erupted Jan. 25. But this was his first public appearance.
Mansour was convicted in 2010 along with 25 others of spying for Hezbollah and plotting attacks in Egypt.