BEIRUT (Reuters) – Hizbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in remarks broadcast on Wednesday the war with Israel would enter a new phase and that his guerrilla group would not accept any “humiliating” conditions for a ceasefire.
In a televised address on the eve of an international conference in Rome designed to find a solution to the two-week-old conflict, Nasrallah said Hizbollah would reject any deal that compromised Lebanon’s sovereignty.
“We cannot accept any condition humiliating to our country, our people or our resistance,” said Nasrallah, sitting in front of the flags of Lebanon and Hizbollah.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during a visit to the region this week, put forward peace proposals that Lebanon’s parliament speaker said involved Hizbollah’s withdrawal from the border and the deployment of an international force.
The United States blames the conflict on Hizbollah, which triggered the conflict on July 12 when it captured two Israeli soldiers.
The war has killed 411 people, mainly civilians, in Lebanon and 42 in Israel.
In the conflict Hizbollah has hit Haifa, Israel’s third largest city 35 km (20 miles) south of the border, for the first time with rockets.
“In the new period, our bombardment will not be limited to Haifa,” said Nasrallah. “If matters develop, we will choose the time when we will move beyond, beyond Haifa.” Â
“NEW MIDDLE EAST”
Israel has launched an incursion into southern Lebanon against Hizbollah guerrillas.
“Whatever the incursion, it will not stop rocket fire into Israel,” said Nasrallah, adding that the Shi’ite Muslim group would take back any land Israel occupied.
Nasrallah accused Israel of launching a psychological war to undermine Lebanese moral and exaggerating casualties inflicted on Hizbollah.
“We do not hide our martyrs. If any of our leaders or ranks were killed, we announce that and take pride in that,” he said.
Israel has said it plans to create a security zone in the south that it would keep until international forces arrive.
“Any coming of the Zionist army to our land will more enable us to damage its troops, officers and tanks,” said Nasrallah. Hizbollah attacks on Israeli forces helped force the Israeli army from south Lebanon in 2000 after 22 years of occupation.
“It will give us a wider and bigger chance for direct confrontation and to bleed the forces of this enemy,” he said.
Nasrallah said Israel had prepared to launch a war on Hizbollah and would have done so regardless of the group’s capture of the soldiers. He said the United States wanted to wipe out Hizbollah as part of its plan for a new Middle East.
“The project upon which the war was planned is the return of Lebanon to the sphere of American-Israeli control,” said the Hizbollah leader.
“In the view of the Americans there are barriers to the new Middle East, meaning the area which the U.S. administration controls”, said Nasrallah.
“The main barriers … are the resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon and at the level of governments, Syria and Iran,” he said. Both countries back Hizbollah.
“Therefore what is required (by the United States) is work to end these barriers and their removal by way of the historic American project being prepared for this region,” he said.