Hezbollah is prepared to act against Israel in response to its war on Hamas, said a top leader of the Lebanese militant group, after Iran warned the continued blockade of Gaza could lead to the opening of a new front in the conflict.
(Bloomberg) — Hezbollah is prepared to act against Israel in response to its war on Hamas, said a top leader of the Lebanese militant group, after Iran warned the continued blockade of Gaza could lead to the opening of a new front in the conflict.
“We are fully prepared — when the time comes — for any action that we will carry out,” Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qasem said, according to the group’s Al Manar TV station.
The comments signal a potential expansion of the conflict, and followed hours after Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian held talks in the Lebanese capital Beirut with Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah that fought a monthlong war with Israel in 2006.
The two discussed “everyone’s responsibilities and the positions that need to be taken with regards to these historical events and developments,” according to a Hezbollah statement.
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“Of course in the case of the continuation of war crimes and the humanitarian blockade of Gaza and Palestine every possibility and decision by the other currents of the resistance is possible,” Amirabdollahian told reporters in Beirut when asked about the possibility of a second front.
He cited the killing of civilians and cutting off of electricity in Gaza as examples of alleged war crimes.
Hezbollah, one of the Middle East’s most powerful militias, has exchanged fire with Israeli troops on the border with Lebanon over the past few days but the situation hasn’t escalated into sustained fighting.
Read more: Why Hezbollah Is a Wild Card in New Mideast Fighting: QuickTake
The Lebanese group’s battle-hardened fighters have in recent years seen extensive combat in Syria, where they fought on the side of President Bashar al-Assad. Hezbollah has an arsenal of missiles that can reach deep into Israel.
Israel is preparing for an expected ground offensive in Gaza after last weekend’s attacks by the Palestinian group, in which Iran has repeatedly denied involvement. Israel has vowed to “wipe out” Hamas after the assault, which killed more than 1,200 people, many of them civilians.
Amirabdollahian vowed to continue Iran’s “political international and media support of the Palestinian resistance.”
Iran describes the network of armed anti-Israel groups that it supports across the region, including Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, as the “axis of resistance” against Israeli occupation.
“The continuation of the war crimes against Palestine and Gaza will definitely be met with reactions in other axes in the region,” Amirabdollahian said.
–With assistance from Dana Khraiche.
(Updates throughout with comments from Hezbollah deputy leader.)
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