BEIRUT: Hezbollah Chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Friday the situation in the country went out of control this week over a spate of kidnappings against Syrians in Lebanon led by a prominent clan and the families of 11 Lebanese pilgrims abducted in Syria.
Nasrallah, who spoke on the occasion of Jerusalem Day, also warned Israel that any attack on Lebanon would be met with a fierce response that would kill tens of thousands of Israelis and turn the Jewish state into hell on earth.
Al-Meqdad clan kidnapped over 20 Syrians and a Turkish national Wednesday in retaliation for the abduction of Hasan al-Meqdad in Damascus by Syrian rebels. A group by the name of “Al-Mokhtar al-Thaqafi Brigades,” believed to be affiliated with the families of the 11 pilgrims, also kidnapped several Syrians in reaction to reports that the pilgrims were killed in an airstrike in Syria.
Nasrallah said “what happened in the past two days is out of the control of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement,” criticizing the media for what he described as “catastrophic behavior.”
“With such unethical behavior on the part of the media and [political factions], what is happening is not under control and everyone bears responsibility,” Nasrallah said.
Media outlets reported Wednesday that the 11 Lebanese hostages had been killed after an airstrike by the Syrian army near where they are thought to be held. Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry denied the reports, but their families took to the streets in protest and blocked the airport road for several hours.
“All that the media cared about was to break the news and get a scoop, disregarding the feelings of these people’s families,” Nasrallah said.
“The irresponsible handling of this issue on both political and media levels saw things get out of control,” he added.
The Hezbollah chief said the events of the past two days proved that his group and the Amal Movement were unable to keep people under control.
Nasrallah stressed Hezbollah had nothing to do with the issue of the kidnapped pilgrims.
“From day one we said that the government was responsible for this issue and we asked the families to consult them ... We do not know the captors and we are incapable of reaching them.
“Any action on our behalf might indirectly harm the pilgrims ... that’s why we decided to remain silent and leave this issue to the government.”
Nasrallah also denied reports alleging that the kidnapped Meqdad was a member of Hezbollah.
Nasrallah also delivered Friday a clear message to Israel.
“War with Lebanon would be very, very, very costly,” he said in a televised speech marking Jerusalem Day.
“We know of certain targets that can be hit by a small number of precision-guided missiles that would turn the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists into hell,” he added, in what could be interpreted as a reference to Israel’s nuclear facilities.
Nasrallah also noted that the rockets were already directed at those targets and were ready to be launched should Israel attack Lebanon.
“When our country is attacked, we will not wait for permission from anyone,” the Hezbollah leader said.
He said that Israel had stepped up its rhetoric about destroying Lebanon, adding that although Israel has the power to do so, Hezbollah could punish the Jewish state.
“I’m not saying I can destroy Israel, but I can say that Hezbollah has the ability to turn the lives of millions of Zionists in occupied Palestine into a real hell,” Nasrallah said. “We can change the face of Israel.”
Speaking about Israel’s repeated threats to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, Nasrallah said that the Jewish state knows for certain that Iran’s response would be devastating.
“Iran is a strong and courageous state ... The Israelis, myself and everyone else know that Iran’s response would be great and shocking were it to be hit by Israel,” he said. “If Israel attacked, it would give Iran the golden opportunity it has been waiting for.”
He added that Israel was afraid of Iran and that the former recognized that the cost of a strike on the Islamic Republic outweighs the benefits.
“Israel’s problem with Iran is that it is a strong, Islamic state that has prospects for further strength and development ... and that Iran is committed ideologically to the Palestinian cause,” he said.
Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have repeatedly spoken of the possibility of a unilateral strike against Iran, while the U.S. has said that it will not let Iran obtain an atomic bomb.
Barak has said he believes his country would suffer up to 500 fatalities in any conflict aimed at wiping out Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Nasrallah also touched on the recent Islamic summit held in Mecca, saying the holding of such a meeting was a positive step and a strong response to Israel’s attempts to drive a wedge between Muslim countries, namely Arab states and Iran.
The Hezbollah chief, however, said the summit’s final statement did not send a strong message to Israel, adding that Israel had become used to Arab rhetoric that falls short of action.