Hezbollah: Israeli aggression will never intimidate Lebanon

Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem: Israel has always been an aggressive state

Pravda.Ru special correspondent Daria Aslamova interviewed Deputy Secretary General of the Hezbollah party, Sheikh Naim Qassem in Lebanon. During the interview, he spoke about the efforts that governments of the Middle East are making to help the Palestinians in Gaza, what Israel lost as a result of the genocide in Gaza, and why the West does not want to start World War Three either in Ukraine or in the Middle East.

Good afternoon, Mr. Sheikh. It's very nice to meet you again. My first question is about the stories that we can see in Israeli and world media about Israel planning an operation in the north of Lebanon to clear the north of Lebanon from Hezbollah. Do you think there will be an Israeli offensive in the near future?

What is happening now in southern Lebanon depends on what is happening in Palestine. In general, the development of events will depend on how events are going to develop in Gaza. I think that if hostilities in Gaza cease, then everything will calm down in Lebanon too, and hostilities will not last. But as the fighting continues in Gaza with no sign of stopping, Israeli leaders continue to threaten Lebanon with opening a second front and attacking Lebanon. We do not want, of course, for the war to continue, for these military actions to somehow expand. We do not know how serious these threats can be, that is, whether they are really going to do this, or whether they are just intimidating us. If they continue their expansion, if they escalate, we will also respond more powerfully than now. And, of course, we are not going to dance to their tune. They can threaten us as much as they want, but it is useless to intimidate us, because we make our decisions ourselves. 

To what extent are you aware of this threat? Israel will deal away with Hamas, and then proceed to target No. 2- Hezbollah. They can use an advantageous opportunity, and you are now a target, is Hezbollah aware of this?

We don't think Israel will do this. It's been almost 4 months since the events in Gaza, and until now, Israel has not implemented, has not achieved any of the goals they have set. If this is the case now, what will happen next?

Of course, throughout the history of its existence, Israel has shown itself to be a very aggressive state, and, of course, we understand that Lebanon is also a target for them, this comes from the very essence of the Israeli state. Of course, we never forget about this, we always remember this. If they decide to attack, we are ready to respond.

We are always on alert as if there is a protocol that if something happens, we know how to act. And so, when one wonders why the forces of resistance are always present, even during the times of truce. We always on guard. We never forget who we are dealing with. They have an aggressive policy towards the countries of the region.

After the October 7 attacks, many expected Hezbollah to open a second front and help Hamas. Are you going to open a second front to help your brothers in faith? Why hasn’t this happened yet?

In principle, what we are doing now is to some extent drawing Israeli forces away from Gaza and inflicting a kind of harassing fire on Israel, bringing chaos into their existence. This is exactly what our goal is now. Indeed, part of Israeli forces have been pulled away from Gaza. They are forced to keep the contingent and evacuate their settlers from the north. This creates social tensions in Israeli society. This is a lot. Our task is not to spend all the weapons that we have at our disposal. We are up for an ongoing confrontation. We do not know what will happen next, in case we need more in the future.

Is there now cooperation between Hamas and Hezbollah here in Lebanon, do you help each other?

Yes, of course, we cooperate. People from Hamas are taking part in battles somewhere, but they are mainly fighting in Gaza, and we are standing here. There were incidents when Hamas fighters actually fired rockets, but those were one-time acts. We can not say that they represent a serious capable military force. Of course, they understand that they fight for Palestine itself, because their war is there.

We can now see that the entire Islamic world rising. People are standing up against Israel's actions in Gaza. We see fighters against the Zionist regime - Yemeni Houthis have become more active in Iraq, and we see people in Syria. It’s all now like a united front. Do you maintain relations, for example, with Yemeni Houthis? Is there any kind of cooperation at all?

Everyone you listed decide what to do for themselves. There is no general command, and everyone in their region decide for themselves according to the situation. All the above listed countries realise what is happening in Palestine, they want to help, they want to participate in the common cause. They all want to participate in this process, including militarily. They do what they can but there's no one decision making centre that would tell them all: “You will do this, and you will do that.” They do everything they can do to help. 

How do you assess, from a military point of view, the operation that Israel is conducting in Gaza: is it successful?

All the goals that they announced  have not been achieved there. And indeed, they have achieved nothing for almost 4 months. And even in the north of Gaza, Hamas is still fighting, although they said that they have finished with Hamas fighters there. They have not been able to free a single living hostage through military operations. That is, everyone they release either die from their own fire or from bombings. Not a single hostage has been released so far. There were several exchanges of hostages.

They state that about 80% of tunnels are still in operation and cannot be reached. They have caused practically no damage to the manpower of Hamas. At the same time, everyone in the world can see with their own eyes the crimes that Israel is committing. Everyone understands that they are child killers, that they bomb hospitals and commit acts of genocide. The only thing they have achieved is the deterioration of their reputation in the world.

There is a wave of popular protests in all Western countries that support Israel, including in the US, which is No. 1 supporter of Israel. Many analysts say that the US election will very much depend on how candidates treat the crisis in Gaza. If they continue military operations in Gaza, then they will lose more and more supporters. 

How do you generally assess the role of Russia in the Middle East, and what is Hezbollah’s relationship with Russia now?

No problem. We have very good friendly relations, we discuss many issues, we are constantly in contact. We regard them as good relations.

How do people here in Lebanon, in the Middle East, look at the Russian special operation in Ukraine? How do you view this conflict, in what context?

It all depends on what people you mean exactly. Everyone has their own view of such events. I cannot speak on behalf of the party here either, because there are different people in it, and we think differently. Of course, we want this to end as soon as possible, because it is clear that this is a confrontation with NATO that has entered this region. We hope that everything will calm down and people there will be able to live normally.

Many people see the conflict in Gaza and Israel's actions there as an expansion of this conflict. Many believe that Israel and the collective West are bracing up to attack Iran. Do you think there will be a war between the West and Iran? 

What is happening in Gaza is, first of all, an American war at the hands of Israel, this is not a game that Israel is playing alone. They cooperate. The Americans want Israel to become a stick in their hands, with which they will beat those who go against their policies. If America could attack Iran, it would. The Americans can't do this. They will continue to pursue anti-Iranian policies. But Iran is not a very small and weak state, let's put it this way. This is a large and strong state that has some capabilities to resist the Americans. And if such a war really happens, then everything will get messed up. There will be chaos as it will be a war between two very strong countries.

In Russia they often say that the current conflict - the crisis in Gaza and  these military actions on the border between Israel and Lebanon, appears to be the beginning of the Third World War. Many believe that all these conflicts may trigger World War Three. 

There are no prerequisites for this to grow into something global. This is a war to strengthen Israel’s position in the region. Israel’s expansion may even capture the territory of neighbouring countries. If World War Three begins, it is not going to spark in Palestine. 

There is a tendency now though that the conflict has expanded throughout the region. Is it possible that there will be a big Middle East war?

What’s happening now I think that all parties are putting a lot of effort for peace to be established. I don’t think that all this will expand and get worse; rather, they will make peace. Even what is happening in Ukraine,  - the West is giving it money and weapons, but they do not participate directly not to let World War Three to start. It is unlikely that they will behave differently in our region. They act so in Ukraine too  - it is dangerous and expensive to start the largest war as no one knows what it all may end up with eventually.

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Author`s name Daria Aslamova
Editor Dmitry Sudakov