“The days when Israel could simply attack Lebanon are over, even though the initiative to attack is in Israel’s hands,” Hassan Hoballah, a member of Hezbollah’s political bureau, said on Tuesday.
The remarks came hours after the Israeli army launched an operation along Lebanon’s border under the pretext of “cutting off” what it claims are Hezbollah tunnels near the occupied territories.
Chief of Staff of Israeli military, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot, claimed that the so-called Operation Northern Shield had been launched before the tunnels were operational and “became an immediate and direct threat to northern communities and army bases.”
Elsewhere in his comments, Hoballah stressed that Hezbollah fighters are capable of blocking any Israeli assault and launching counter-attacks on the enemy.
The resistance forces, he added, are on “a constant state of alert and surveillance, and are assessing the situation.”
The official also noted that Hezbollah’s course of action will depend on developments in the field.
Hezbollah was formed following the Israeli regime’s invasion of Lebanon and the ensuing occupation of its southern parts in the 1980s, and currently constitutes Lebanon’s de facto military power.
Since then, the movement has helped the national army retake the occupied regions from Tel Aviv and thwart two Israeli acts of aggression in 2000 and 2006. It has also been playing a significant role in the Syrian army’s fight against Takfiri terrorist groups.
Since the end of the 2006 war, Israeli forces have regularly violated Lebanon’s sovereignty, with the regime’s officials even threatening another offensive against the Arab country.
Separately on Tuesday, President Michel Aoun called on Lebanon’s military and security agencies to “closely monitor” the situation in the country’s south.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency (NNA) reported that Aoun had held several phone calls with government officials and the army commander regarding the new Israeli operation.
“During President Aoun’s phone calls, the situation was evaluated in light of the available information about the objectives of the Israeli operation and security agencies were asked to closely monitor the situation,” the report said.
Additionally, the Lebanese army command said that it is watching the situation closely, reiterating its readiness to confront any emergency situation.
“The situation is under close follow-up,” read an army communiqué.
It further pointed out that the Lebanese army units are carrying out their usual missions near the occupied lands in cooperation with the United Nations peacekeeping force, known as UNIFIL, to prevent any escalation or destabilization in the region.
Analysts have, however, raised doubt about the declared objective of the Israeli operation, describing it as an attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to divert attention from the corruption scandals he is grappling with.
Prominent regional analyst Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm, wrote Tuesday that the Israeli premier is struggling to save his own political life and avoid ending behind bars for graft by announcing such an operation.
He also said the operation was launched shortly after Netanyahu’s meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the Belgian capital, stressing that the embattled prime minister had been in Brussels to ask Pompeo for help.
Miko Peled, a former member of the Israeli army who has now become a pro-Palestinian activist, also believes that the Israeli operation is actually meant to distract public opinion from Netanyahu’s corruption probes.
“Yesterday, if you look at the Israeli papers, there was some mention of the corruption charges. Today, it’s all southern Lebanon, it’s all Hezbollah, it’s all pictures of Netanyahu with his senior security staff, with the generals and so-forth. So this is a great PR and political gift that he got when (ex-minister for military affairs) Lieberman resigned, and now he’s making use of it,” Peled told Russia’s Sputnik news agency.