Hezbollah has an extensive list of Israeli facilities to target in the event of a new conflict, the Lebanese militant group’s number two Naim Qassem said in an interview published on Wednesday.
“We now hold a large and precise bank of Israeli targets, and Israel will have to pay the price for any step it takes,” Qassem told the mass-circulation An-Nahar daily.
“Hezbollah has worked to develop its readiness to rise to the challenge should it arise, and we can safely say that in the past four years we have prepared ourselves far more than Israel has,” he told the Arabic-language daily, which is close to the Shi’ite group’s domestic rivals in Lebanon.
“But that does not mean that war is near,” he added.
In a separate interview with the pro-Hezbollah daily Al-Binaa, Qassem said: “We have taken into account all possible scenarios for sea, land and air across all of Lebanon.
“What happened in 2006 is much less than what could happen in the future,” he added referring to the last devastating conflict between Israel and Hezbollah which killed about 1 200 people in Lebanon, most of them civilians, and 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers.
The war ended with the passage of a truce resolution by the UN Security Council which beefed up a peacekeeping force first deployed in the south when Israel began a 22-year occupation of the region in 1978.
After years of warm ties with the people of southern Lebanon, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon has come under attack by civilians in recent weeks in protest against a maximum deployment exercise.
In the most notable incident, villagers disarmed a French patrol and attacked them with sticks, rocks and eggs, prompting the Security Council to call on “all parties” to allow the peacekeeping force to move freely.
Qassem said the attacks were in protest at the “mistakes” the troops had made.
“It is only normal for townsfolk to stage peaceful protests when they see the troops moving into their villages at full force, as though they were in a state of war, and violating the known rules for their behaviour,” he told An-Nahar.
The Hezbollah number two insisted his party had no grievance against either UNIFIL or the 2006 truce resolution, however.
Tensions between Hezbollah and Israel rose in April when the Jewish state accused Syria of delivering Scud missiles to its Lebanese ally in defiance of the truce resolution, a charge Damascus denies.
The Israeli army says the Shiite group has a stock of about 40 000 rockets and this month published aerial photographs showing what it said was evidence of Hezbollah stockpiling weapons in towns and villages near the border. – AFP