Israel preparing for new war: Hezbollah

April 7th, 2008 - 7:21 am ICT by admin  

Beirut, April 7 (DPA) Lebanon’s Shia militant group Hezbollah has said that new Israeli military exercises near the Lebanese border are intended to prepare for a new war on the country. “Our fighters are fully ready to defend Lebanon if Israel attacks,” Sheikh Naeem Kassem, deputy secretary general of Hezbollah, said Sunday.

Kassem’s remarks came as Israel began a five-day home front security drill near the Lebanese border.

Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrillas fought a 33-day war in July-August 2006. More than 1,200 people were killed, mostly in Lebanon.

Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai said that the drill was meant to help Israel learn lessons from its 2006 war against Hezbollah guerrillas, during which the Shia militia fired hundreds of conventional rockets that hit deep inside northern Israel.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora, who visited Egypt Sunday, said he had instructed the Lebanese Army and UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon to be vigilant “so that Israel will not use (the drills) as a pretext to violate our airspace or launch an attack on Lebanon.”

In a speech last month, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah threatened an “open war” against Israel in retaliation for the assassination of the group’s military commander, Imad Mughaniyeh.

Mughaniyeh was killed Feb 12 by a car bomb in Syria. Hezbollah and Iran, its main backer, blamed his assassination on Israel, which denied involvement.

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