Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Friday praised the Palestinian militant group Hamas for exposing what he called a weakened Israel and threatened to intervene in the war to protect Gaza from Israeli attacks.
Nasrallah delivered a major speech in Lebanon, his first since the Israel-Hamas war broke out in early October, as fighting has raged between Hezbollah and Israel on the borders. The speech played on video in the capitol of Beirut, where crowds of supporters gathered to listen.
The Hezbollah leader, appearing furious and emotional, said Gaza is suffering a humanitarian catastrophe under an Israeli siege and announced that he could “adopt any option at any time” to respond to the crisis, which he said is in the “national interest” of Lebanon. He also warned that Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians could spark a war.
“What the Israelis do to Lebanon will also determine how we will act,” he said. “All options are on the table on the Lebanese front.”
Hezbollah and Israeli soldiers have primarily traded artillery and rocket fire in recent weeks, but the fighting has been near daily and the deadliest in years. Nasrallah’s threats of escalation come after Israel has encircled Gaza City, the Hamas stronghold, and is now fighting in the urban area.
A second front opening in northern Israel has sparked fears of a wider regional conflict and led the U.S. to deploy two aircraft carriers and a contingent of troops to the eastern Mediterranean to deter a conflict from growing.
Nasrallah said the deployment of U.S. assets and troops, along with high-profile visits of U.S. generals, proved Israel is weakened and “needs American support” to “stand on its own two feet.”
“Israel is weaker than a spider web,” he said in the televised remarks, also explaining that Hezbollah would not be deterred by U.S. forces, which he said have failed to control the Middle East. “Your Navy ships in the Mediterranean don’t scare us and never did.”
It’s unclear how much public support there is in Lebanon for a war against Israel, especially given an economic crisis in the country. Iran-backed Hezbollah, which is designated a terrorist group by the U.S., is also the country’s dominant political party.
Hezbollah last fought Israel in 2006, which did not result in a decisive victory for either side, but saw Israeli forces withdraw from Lebanon without accomplishing their objectives. Hezbollah has only grown in strength since then and would pose a major challenge to Israel.
Nasrallah said the Israel-Hamas war is entirely a Palestinian resistance movement, but Hezbollah was focused on ensuring victory for Hamas there. He also said his forces have engaged Israel in order to stand in solidarity with Hamas and would seek to prevent Israel sending an even larger number of troops into Gaza.
Hezbollah was created by Iran, and the political and military group is the primary proxy group for Tehran in the Middle East. Hamas is also funded by Iran, which has been engaged in a shadow war with Israel for years.
Since Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 people and taking more than 200 hostages, Iran has unflinchingly backed the Palestinian militant group in public remarks.
Tehran has also decried the Israeli attacks on Gaza and also threatened to intervene in the war to stop the “genocide” of the Palestinian people.
Nasrallah accused Israel on Friday of committing a “complete brutality” of the Palestinian people and said the U.S. was also responsible for the deaths of civilians. He denied reports of Hamas brutally killing Israeli children and praised its Oct. 7 attack on civilians.
“The whole world is witnessing thousands of women and children being killed,” he said. “Today, defending the people of Gaza is an act of humanity.”
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This story originally Appeared on The Hill