Hezbollah’s deputy chief says the terror group is “at the heart” of the war between Israel and Hamas

BEIRUT – A senior Hezbollah official vows Israel will pay a heavy price whenever it launches a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, saying his Lebanon-based terror group is already “at the heart of the battle.”

The comments by Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem came as Israel bombed southern Lebanon and carried out drone strikes and Hezbollah fired rockets at Israel. Hezbollah said six of its fighters were killed today, the highest daily toll since violence began two weeks ago.

For Hezbollah, heating up the Lebanese-Israeli border has a clear goal, says Qassem: “We are trying to weaken the Israeli enemy and let them know that we are ready.” Hamas officials said that Hezbollah is joining the fighting would follow if Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza.

Qassem says his Iran-backed group, allied with Hamas, is already influencing the course of the conflict by heating up the Lebanese-Israeli border and keeping three Israeli army divisions in the north instead of preparing to fight in Gaza.

“Do you think that other resistance fighters in the region will not act if you try to crush the Palestinian resistance?” Qassem says in a speech during the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter. “We are in the middle of a fight today. We achieve success through this fight.”

Qassem also commented on foreign dignitaries who visited Lebanon in the past two weeks and asked Lebanese officials to persuade the group not to take part in the recent battle between Hamas and Israel. He says Hezbollah’s response to Lebanese officials was: “We are part of the fight.”

“We say to those who contact us: ‘Stop the (Israeli) aggression so that its (conflict) effects and the possibility of expansion stop,’” Qassem said, referring to officials who recently visited Beirut, including the Foreign Minister of France and France of Germany.

Regarding an expected Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, Qassem said: “According to our information, the preparations of Hamas and the resistance fighters in Gaza will make the Israeli ground invasion their graveyard.”

Source : www.timesofisrael.com

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