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Israel to be eliminated if it tries to expel Palestinians from Gaza: Senior Hezbollah official

The file photo shows Hezbollah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qassem during an interview with Reuters at his office in Beirut's suburbs. (Photo by Reuters)

A senior Hezbollah official has vowed Israel “will be eliminated once and for all” if it tries to expel Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, and that it is essential to attack US interests in order to bring the aggression to a halt.

Sheikh Naim Qassem, who has served as the deputy secretary general of Hezbollah since 1991, made the remarks in an interview with the Spain-based El Mundo daily.

“If Israel decides to extend the aggression, it will be digging its own grave and will provide a good opportunity to be eliminated once and for all,” he said, referring to proposals by Israeli think tanks to expel Palestinians from Gaza, which have been publicized by Israeli media.   

He said Hezbollah tries to force Israel to stop its attacks on civilians in the Gaza Strip, adding that there’s a real possibility of expansion of the war if Israel refuses to halt its attacks.

“The number of civilians killed by Israel increases every day. We have a plan to respond to these types of attacks and force Israel to rein in. But it is a decision that will be made on the battlefield,” he further commented.

“As to whether the war will spread, that possibility exists ... If they attack us, we will have to defend ourselves and we will use all our power. We are not afraid of Israeli threats. We are convinced that we will win,” he noted.

He said Hezbollah is in a “much better position” compared to 2006 when it battled the regime for 33 days, and that its warehouses are full of weapons.

‘Attacking US essential to stop aggression’

Asked to comment on a recent threat by an Israeli minister that the regime might decide to nuke Gaza and if such a nuclear attack might also target Lebanon, Qassem said they’re not afraid of Israeli nukes.

“If Israel uses nuclear weapons, it will kill the Israelis before it kills us. This is a very small territory. In any case, we are not afraid of nuclear weapons. [The statements of the minister] are an example of his arrogance. The West should tell us what it thinks about a minister [from Israel] suggesting the use of nuclear weapons.”

Asked about the reason behind attacks on US bases in Syria and Iraq, he said the resistance has to confront both Israel and its allies, namely the US, France, Germany and the UK, who aid and abet the Israeli massacres.

“On the other side, there is also an axis made up of the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Israel. It is the axis that supports the occupation, legitimizes the murder of children and women, the destruction of hospitals, and grants immunity to Israel to continue its massacres.”

He said the United States is directly supporting these massacres and that is why attacking the US is essential to stop the aggression against Gaza.

“The US intervention (sending its fleet to the Mediterranean Sea) is part of the violent Israeli reaction and serves to protect this monstrosity.”

‘AL-Aqsa Storm, independent Palestinian operation’

He said Hezbollah is part of an axis of resistance that remains united about defending al-Aqsa mosque.

“Today there is an alliance that we call the ‘axis of resistance’, which includes groups from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen or Palestine. What they have in common is that they are defending a legitimate cause, the Palestinian cause and al-Quds. They believe that the Palestinians, not the occupiers, deserve the land, and that the occupiers must abandon that land and return it to its owners,” he said.

Sheikh Qassem explained that there’s no boss in the grouping and each party acts based on its own discretion.

“There is no boss in the axis of resistance. We have a unitary vision but each one judges how to contribute to the victory of Gaza.”

The Hezbollah official said Hamas’ Al-Aqsa Storm was an independent operation

“Al Aqsa Storm (the Hamas operation) was an independent Palestinian operation, both in terms of preparation and execution. All the speculations of the (Western) Intelligence services about the existence of a global decision-making body in the axis of resistance are speculation. They have no proof.”

‘Hamas proved Israel’s inherent weakness’

The Hezbollah official hailed the Palestinian operation as a great and noble act by Palestinians who had no other option but to resist the regime.

“What happened on October 7 was a great act by the oppressed Palestinians against an occupation that left them no other option in the last 75 years, where they suffered assassinations, the creation of settlements, the siege of Gaza or continuous assaults against Al-Aqsa mosque. For all this, we consider it a very important and noble act, even if some parts could have been avoided.”

He said the operation proved Israel to be so weak and that it couldn’t stay alive without US support.

“You heard [Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan] Nasrallah in 2006 saying that Israel was more fragile than a spider's web. Israel is weak ... This is what happened on October 7. The number of hours it took the politicians and the army to react was too high. If Israel still stands, it is because of the support of the United States. Otherwise, it would have collapsed in a few days. Israel is under intensive care from the West and we do not know how long it will last.”

‘Israel can in no way justify massacres’

Asked to comment on Western criticism that a number of unarmed settlers were killed on October 7 by Palestinians, Sheikh Qassem said the Hamas operation was aimed at the Israeli army and regime and thus the US cannot use the death of some settlers “as a pretext to justify all these massacres” perpetrated by Israel.

“We have to focus on the main objective of the attack. It was an act of resistance that wanted to resolve issues such as the release of detainees. And we cannot focus on details to justify these massacres. You have to go to the origin of things.

"Who caused the operation? It was the Zionist occupation. The operation is a reaction [to the occupation]. Have you had a chance to count the number of people killed by Israel in the last 75 years (since Israel was created)? They have killed, injured or imprisoned tens of thousands without any justification, other than being the owners of the land. Why are you asking me about a limited number of people (Israeli settlers) in a justified operation?”

‘Conflict ends only if occupation ends’

On the possible solution to the decades-long conflict in Palestine, he said the only viable option is an end to the Israeli occupation.

“The Palestinians do not recognize Israel and will never surrender under the threat of force. They will never give up their land. Israel does not need a justification for its attacks. They have been the occupiers and aggressors from the beginning. And they continue to increase their aggression against Gaza. You should ask Israel why it continues with the occupation and why the West protects them. Stability will only return to the region when the occupation ends.”

Sheikh Qassem said it’s up to the Palestinians to decide their future, and not the occupiers.

“For Hezbollah, Israel has no right to exist and the Palestinians are the real owners of that land. But it is the Palestinians, including Palestinian Jews, who can decide their future,” he noted.

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