Sunday, August 17, 2008

Israel plans to kill Hezbollah chiefs: Nasrallah


A frame grab taken off the Hezbollah-run Manar TV

BEIRUT (AFP)

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday accused Israel of seeking to eliminite the Lebanese Shiite movement's leaders, in a televised speech on the second anniversary of the summer war with Israel.

"We know you are planning to assassinate leaders of the resistance... but you do not frighten us," he said in the broadcast on the group's Al-Manar television station.

Nasrallah made no comment about Israeli charges that Hezbollah was rearming other than to say that "no one should expect us to say whether we have new weapons or not."

Israel's 34-day summer war two years ago with Hezbollah resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 Lebanese civilians, a third of them children, as well as 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

The conflict destroyed more than 25,000 homes and 50,000 other buildings, notably in the country's south, before ending with a U.N.-brokered ceasefire on August 14, 2006.

On Thursday Nasrallah likened the current Russia-Georgia conflict to what he called Israel's failure in the 2006 war sparked when Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a deadly cross-border attack.

"Israel sent one if its generals... to Georgia and its unfortunate government told him to train Georgian special forces," he charged. "Relying on Israeli experts and weapons, Georgia learned why the Israeli generals failed" against Hezbollah, he said.

"What happened in Georgia is a lesson to all those who take on American training for risky adventures and are then abandoned by the U.S.," Nasrallah said of Georgia's pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili.

In his address the Hezbollah chief also hailed the visit to Syria, which backs his movement, by Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman, calling it "a new stage" in relations between Beirut and Damascus.

He also called Wednesday's deadly bomb attack in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli in which 14 people were killed -- among them nine soldiers -- "a criminal act."

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