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Hezbollah Chief Claims Israel Unprepared for War

In this Aug. 2, 2013, file photo, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah gestures during a rally to mark Jerusalem day or Al-Quds day, in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon. The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, categorically denied accusations that his group is sending weapons to …
AP/Hussein Malla
DEBORAH DANAN

TEL AVIV – Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday said the IDF was unprepared for a ground offensive in Lebanon and that the Israeli military could not rely solely on its air force to achieve victory. 

“I lean in the direction that Israel is unlikely to carry out a war on Lebanon,” Nasrallah said, according to a translation by the Times of Israel. “This is my personal opinion.”

“The Israelis say the home front is not ready. Any theoretical Israeli war needs a ground operation to achieve its desired goal. The era in which the air force decides the battle is over. This has become one of the military axioms in the world. If Israel starts a war, it needs a ground operation to achieve its goal for the war,” he continued.

The terror chief pointed to the two rockets fired at the Tel Aviv area in March, which the Iron Dome defense system failed to intercept.

“We saw how two missiles were fired by mistake from Gaza and landed in the Tel Aviv surroundings, and then another missile was shot off from Gaza and landed north of Tel Aviv; all the Israeli measures were not able to do anything,” he said.

Nasrallah also slammed the U.S. for ending sanctions waivers for countries that purchase oil from Iran on Monday.

The U.S., he said, “is the real enemy, the first enemy, and the biggest enemy.”

“Israel, the takfiri organizations, terrorists, murderers and those who launch wars are nothing more than tools of the American project, aggression and tyranny,” he said.

Nasrallah’s speech comes on the heels of a warning by Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, the new commander of the IDF’s Ground Forces, that Hezbollah was  planning to carry out a surprise attack in northern Israel — this despite the army’s recent operation to destroy Hezbollah-dug cross-border tunnels.

“Hezbollah still has plans to invade the Galilee,” he told the Ynet news site. “Of course, we won’t allow that to happen. We will thwart these plans.”

“In the next war, it would be a mistake for us to distinguish between the state of Lebanon and Hezbollah, since Hezbollah is a political actor and part of the government,” Strick said.

In such a scenario, “if it were up to me, I would recommend declaring war on Lebanon and Hezbollah,” he said. “I have no doubt what the outcome will be. … It will be a decisive victory.”

Last month, recently retired IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot said that the threat of war with Hezbollah had increased during the last three years and that Israel had come close to it during his time as army chief.

“The Hezbollah threat is a serious threat,” Eisenkot said. “It is a strong organization that has gained experience in running large operations and wants to prepare an attack plan to conquer the Galilee and bring 5,000 fighters underground” into Israel.

Separately, the Trump administration announced Monday that it is offering up to $10 million for any information leading to the disruption of Hezbollah’s financial mechanisms.

A Forbes report recently claimed Hezbollah to be the richest terror organization in the world, with an estimated annual income of $1.1 billion.

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