Hezbollah at War (3): Missiles on Haifa (July 16, 2006)
Speech by Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah, on July 16, 2006, the fourth day of the war against Israel, in which Haifa was hit for the first time.
“We concentrated our missile / rocket strikes exclusively on military positions, without striking any Israeli settlements or urban centers in the north of occupied Palestine. But the enemy’s army, unable to face Hezbollah fighters, started from day one to target cities, villages, civilians and civilian facilities, as well as Lebanon’s infrastructure. […] So we had no choice but to keep the promise we made ourselves, and we hit the city of Haifa. [..] Our weapons are not weapons of vengeance, but weapons of deterrence, weapons whose purpose is to bring back some reason and common sense to the madmen in the Olmert government, so that they put an end to their arrogance, hubris, and I can even say their very peculiar imbecility and stupidity.” Hassan Nasrallah, July 16, 2006.
Unsurprisingly, in the first days of the war, Israel poured out its destructive fury on Lebanon and the Lebanese population, purposely striking the infrastructure (bridges, power plants, airport…) in order to paralyze the country, as well as the urban centers to inflict a collective punishment on the Lebanese people –especially the Shiite-majority areas of the southern suburbs of Beirut, to exact the highest price from the Hezbollah base–, sparing neither homes nor convoys of civilians fleeing the areas bombed and in particular the south, nor the ambulances, the refuges, nor the food industry, subjecting the country to a real blockade. Robert Fisk had reported the war crime of Marwaheen, a particularly vile and spiteful act of vengeance, mentioned by Hassan Nasrallah in this speech:
“[Lebanon] is being vandalized and smashed up by a country which says it believes in purity of arms. And these civilian deaths, I don’t believe that they’re by chance. I don’t believe it was a mistake when they hit that army barracks of logistic soldiers, who are trying to repair [a bridge and restore electricity in] their own country, which they have every right to do.
And Marwaheen is a particular — this is a village in Southern Lebanon, where Mossad, the Israelis, ordered the villagers out. I should add that this is a village closest to the scene of the killing and capture of the Israeli soldiers on Wednesday. They were ordered to leave the village. They did so in a convoy of cars, 20 of them. They went to the United Nations, who ordered them away — Ghanaian Battalion, shamefully — and set off to Tyre. And an F-16 came down and burned them all alive with bombs. Outrageous massacre.”
In a few days, there were more than 300 dead, almost exclusively civilians, thousands of wounded and nearly one million displaced. The Lebanese army, scandalously neutral in this conflict –we would learn much later that Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who called on Hezbollah to return the soldiers to Israel, making the Resistance de facto responsible for the war, had given instructions for the army to hinder Hezbollah activity–, was not even spared in its civil engineering actions. Anxious to maintain as much as possible the national cohesion and not to play the game of the enemy, Hassan Nasrallah would not evoke these facts until 2008, nor the collusion of the Gulf monarchies, and Saudi Arabia in particular, with the Israeli aggression.
But while Israel emerged as the criminal army it has always been, Hezbollah, for its part, demonstrated its ethics, targeting Israeli civilians only after several days of restraint. having no other choice to protect its own population (the final civilian / military ratio of Hezbollah victims will be the reverse of Israel’s, 1/10 versus 10/1), as well as its great military expertise: while the Lebanese guerrillas achieved success after success (Israel corvette destroyed, military bases of the north localized and hit…), Israel revealed to all the incapacity of its infantry, whose attempts of incursion were immediately stopped, and even of its services intelligence, essential auxiliaries of the air force. On the first day, Olmert had pompously announced the destruction of almost all of Hezbollah’s ballistic capacity, but he received a stinging denial from the ever-increasing rocket and missile strikes that hit Israel daily, until the last day of the confrontation, up to Haifa and, as the next stage will show, well beyond Haifa. This discourse, where victory and reconstruction are evoked as soon-to-be and certain perspectives, clearly shows that Hezbollah always was in a position of strength in this conflict.
In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
“– Say: Nothing (bad) can happen to us except what God has decreed for us. He is our Protector: and on God let the believers put their trust. – Say: Can you expect for us (any fate) other than one of two glorious things (victory or martyrdom)? But (as for us), we can expect for you either that God will send His punishment from Himself or by our hands. So wait (expectant); we too will wait with you (the outcome of our battle).” (Quran, IX, 50-51)
God the Almighty and Most High has spoken the truth.
Peace be upon you and God’s mercy and blessings.
In this speech, I wish to speak to you again on this day, Sunday [July 16], shortly before 1pm, to discuss with you some points relating to the battlefield and the political (situation), that I must evoke in this particularly sensitive and important situation we are living today.
First, regarding the events on the ground. From the beginning, we tried to act with calm, precision and without precipitation. We announced clear positions and clear warnings. The first day, we focused our missile/rocket strikes exclusively on military positions, without targeting any Israeli settlement or urban center in northern occupied Palestine. But the army of the enemy, unable to face the mujahedeen (Hezbollah fighters), started from day one to target cities, villages, civilians and civilian facilities as well as (Lebanon’s) infrastructure.
Despite this, we have waited and continued our struggle (targeting only enemy) soldiers and military forces, and military positions in the north of occupied Palestine. And very important strikes took place successfully, especially one that targeted several Command centers of Brigades in the north (of Israel), whether the Command of the northern zone, the Command of the naval forces or the Command of air operations in Meron, and the impact and damage caused by these unprecedented strikes were considerable. But in spite of that, we saw that the Zionists concentrated their strikes on civilians and civilian facilities.
(The enemy) tried to advance in the area of ‘Ayt al-Sha`b, but the mujahedeen (fighters) faced him and destroyed an Israeli tank that is among the strongest that exists to this day in Israel. A second tank approached and was also destroyed, and a third came forward and was damaged. And this event was an opportunity to humiliate the Israeli infantry at the Mount Amel border.
The main cities of Lebanon were hit by Israel, as well as villages, and they killed civilians in their homes. In several villages, civilian homes were destroyed, and the husband, the wife and children (whole families) got killed. Here, there are 10 martyrs; there, 8 martyrs; there again, 7 martyrs, etc. (Their crimes went as far as) the terrible and atrocious martyrdom of refugees of the city (South Lebanon) of Marwaheen, mostly women and children (fleeing the combat zone at Israel’s request), and destructive strikes against a number of towns, and especially against the southern suburb of Beirut.
It seems that the enemy has misinterpreted our restraint of the early days. In truth, we have been patient against this aggression and retaliated by hitting only military (targets), to confirm that our battle is with them, even if we consider that all (the Israelis) are accomplices (of the attack). But as long as we were not forced to hit civilian targets, we had no reason to do so. We waited (patiently) and achieved a great success when we hit the Israeli military corvette (who operated) off the coast of Beirut, as a clear sign that we punish those who strike our cities and infrastructure, and assault our people.
But the Zionists continued (their widespread strikes) regardless of our warnings, and their false reading of (our restraint) lead them to continue their wide aggression against southern Lebanon, the Bekaa, especially against the cities of Baalbek-Hermel, up to the north, and always target more civilian facilities and infrastructure. We didn’t have a choice today but to keep the promise we had made ourselves, and we hit the city of Haifa. We know the importance of this city and its particular sensitivity. And if we had launched our missiles on chemical and petrochemical plants, a major disaster would have hit the inhabitants of this city. But we have deliberately avoided these plants, which are within the range of our missiles, due to our care not to push things to the unknown, and to ensure that our weapons are not weapons of vengeance, but weapons of deterrence, weapons (aiming to) bring back some sanity and common sense to the madmen in the Olmert government, to put an end to their arrogance, their hubris, and I can even say the idiocy and stupidity by which they truly stand out.
But the fact that we have avoided (hitting chemical installations, cities or settlements) does not mean that this is an irrevocable decision: at any time, we consider that we are responsible to defend our country, our people and our families, and therefore all means in our power to ensure that defense will be implemented. As long as the enemy will lead its aggression without limits or red line, we also (have every right to) organize our Resistance without limits or red line.
O noble Lebanese people to whom I address this speech, I also want to confirm some points after the presentation of the situation on the ground. We still have, thank God, our full power and our full strength. It is we who have the initiative of the time and place (of confrontation), and the enemy cannot force us to resort to any means of defense, nor can he impose the time at which we use them.
We continue to carry out our Resistance in a precise and organized way, something the enemy did not expect: Israel assumed that in the first days, his violent strikes would lead to a dismemberment of the (Hezbollah) Command and of our (military) base, but no such thing happened, and I will get back to this issue later. And one of our major strong points is that the enemy does not know our power and our capabilities. And when they announce their position or make their calculations, they base them on erroneous data and false information. For example… And this is why the enemy also resorts to lies.
For example, the first day, all the targets hit in the villages of southern Lebanon are civilian homes, civilian houses in which there were no launching pads nor storage of missiles/rockets, nor anything resembling what the Israelis alleged to have targeted. Then the Israelis announced that the largest portion of the ballistic (missiles/rockets) power of Hezbollah was destroyed on the first day. I tell the Israeli Army that these information are false and unfounded. The people you killed are civilians, women and children. And the houses you destroyed are civilian homes, empty of any missile or rocket you mention. (Hezbollah’s) arsenal that you dread so much and consider very thoughtfully in all your calculations is still intact, and what we have launched so far is only a small part of this arsenal. We always have the ability to launch a large number of rockets/missiles.
Today, the Zionists based all their plans and calculations on the assumption that the number of rockets or missiles in the hands of Hezbollah able to strike Haifa, Acre, Tiberias or beyond Haifa does not exceed a few dozen. If your battle is based on this postulate, then I bring you good news of your defeat (to come), by the grace of God. It only makes us more optimistic and enthusiastic, stronger and more confident in our ability to defeat you.
And I say to the Zionist people that your government and your army deceive you. During the operation “Grapes of Wrath” (1996), they organized their entire battle on the (erroneous) assumption that all what Hezbollah actually had in terms of Katyusha rockets did not exceed 500. Then they were surprised to find out that this information was false. On this point, I can confirm that the enemy is completely unaware of (the full extent of) our ability. He ignores what we have at all levels. And this is our most important strength, and we have always prided ourselves of it within the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon (Hezbollah). We take pride in the fact that we are not infiltrated by the Israeli intelligence services. We are proud to have built our strength, in every respect, with the required concealment and secrecy as we were preparing carefully for the day Israel would try to avenge the defeat Lebanon inflicted on it (in 2000).
For the next stage, we will keep behaving as we do now, since it is they who have opted for this open war, and we will be careful to avoid targeting civilians as much as possible, except when we are compelled to it. In the previous step, even when we were forced to target civilians, we focused our strikes on main cities and large settlements, though we had the ability to hit every settlement, every village and every city, at least those in the north of occupied Palestine, but we chose to keep things in the limit required to pressure the government of this enemy. But as I have said, even in this context, when the Zionists act on the principle that there are no rules, no red line and no limit to their aggression, then we also have the right to behave the same way in return.
Today, Israelis speak of a violent bombardment (from them), as if what happened in the early days was a light bombardment. Many towns and villages of Lebanon have suffered these (massive) strikes, including the southern suburb of Beirut last night, which suffered a methodical destruction of certain neighborhoods. The world will see the reality of it all, and although during the first stage, we wanted some scenes (particularly atrocious) not to be broadcast, the world is beginning to see the extent of the destruction inflicted by the enemy to the buildings (and of the massacres). But can it alter our determination, our will or our decision? Never, under any circumstances.
We will continue to fight, and we have very, very large abilities, and we are only at the beginning. And the Zionists will infallibly see, I repeat it again and again, that what I say and promise is the absolute truth (and will certainly happen).
Today, we also hear in Zionist circles (military / media) about the idea of launching a ground incursion towards certain places. They already tried to advance on the Raheb position located west of Ayt al-Sha`b, and tried again last night (in vain). We heard today that they would use weapons prohibited by the international community. Anyway, we are present in the south, our mujahedeen (fighters) are just as ready (to fight) as one can conceive, they have a passion for combat and an enthusiastic desire to inflict a (stinging) defeat on the enemy. This is not a desperate people seeking martyrdom, but an optimistic people certain of his victory, who wants to offer Arabs a new example (of victorious Resistance). And therefore, as we have surprised them at sea (with the destruction of their corvette), as we surprised them (when we hit) Haifa, and as we will surprise them (when we strike) beyond Haifa, I also promise them a surprise with their ground offensive. And we look forward to it with great hope, because it will give us the opportunity to directly hit the enemy tanks and soldiers, who are currently hiding in fortified retreats and planes; and obviously, as their Air Force is the most powerful in the region, they may be out of our reach because they strike us from very high locations in the sky. Any ground incursion will be very good news for the Resistance because it will get us closer to victory and allow us to humiliate the Israeli enemy, as we humiliated him in recent days. This prospect does not worry us.
I have a word to say to the (Lebanese) people, this generous people, enduring, honorable, pure, from which we heard these days in the media expressions of patience, support, assistance and love (for the Resistance ). You are truly a great people, and these are not (vain) bragging words, exaggeration or embellishment (of reality). You are a historical people, on which rests the hope to get Lebanon and even all this (Arab-Muslim) Community, the whole Community, out of the state of submission and humiliation in which it is today, and to reinvigorate it with hope. I assure you once again that with your support, your embrace, your love, your patience and endurance, we will be victorious.
The houses and buildings that are destroyed will surely be rebuilt, with our cooperation and that of the institutions of the Lebanese State, but in this respect, I declare to you: do not worry at all about all that is destroyed by the Israeli war machine (because we will rebuild everything). We only wish recovery to the wounded, and long life to all the Lebanese in health and well-being; and as to what is bombed and destroyed, with the help of God Almighty and Exalted, with the help of the Lebanese State and also with the help of Hezbollah, which is an interested and concerned party, we are determined to be serious and effective in rebuilding all that was destroyed; and I tell you, without going into details now, that we have friends (Iran) seriously engaged in this issue, who have a great ability to help us with clean, pure and honorable money, without any political conditions. Do not worry about the reconstruction of our country. The importance today is to resist, and to emerge victorious from this battle.
I also have a word to say on some points currently raised by the media of the enemy, and I will conclude with a word that I will address the peoples of the Arab and Muslim worlds.
The enemy today resorts to lies and strong psychological warfare, which is quite natural, especially with an enemy like this. For example, they first tried to say that no Zionist warship was destroyed at sea, then they eventually recognized it. And I can confirm, and we also have elements that confirm this: a corvette was hit by two missiles. That’s the first point. And as for the fact that they have tried to make people believe that the missiles of the Resistance struck a commercial vessel or something like that, the days have shown that this was part of the Israeli lies. In the event that a commercial vessel would indeed have been targeted or hit, certainly, it would be the action of Israeli warships.
Another point in this regard, the fact that they talk of Iranian soldiers, and that it would be Iranians who have launched or helped to launch the two (ground-sea) missiles (that struck the corvette). Israeli reconnaissance aircraft were present above the area where the missiles were launched and watched every move. How could this confined area contain Iranian soldiers? Anyway, I categorically deny the presence of any Iranian soldier, either during this operation or any other. Those who have the comprehensive expertise and themselves use these (military) capabilities present in Hezbollah’s hands are Lebanese, children of Lebanese and belong to Lebanese families since hundreds of years. The Israelis speak of Iranians and Iranian soldiers, and could speak tomorrow of North Koreans, Japanese, Russians or Chinese in order to lessen (our abilities) and insult us, as they always have done with us, the Lebanese and Arab peoples, considering that we are at a lower level, and that we are not sufficiently developed, capable or do not have the necessary expertise for a confrontation of this nature. This is part of the lies that the Zionists resort to in this war. I really wanted to clarify that. And therefore, by the grace of God, in the next stage, through the arms of the mujahideen (fighters) and honorable Lebanese Resistance, we will continue our struggle and defeat our enemy.
Finally, I wish to address the Arab and Muslim peoples. Of course, I am speaking to them to clarify things and make them face up to their responsibilities. I am not going to implore, call for help or request anything.
Since the first moments of Operation “Truthful Promise” and the confrontations that ensued, we resolved and we are bound by common consent, me and my brothers, to ask nothing to any man in this confrontation. And many people have contacted us and offered assistance, but we said we do not need anything, and we never took the initiative to ask for anything, whether at the material, political, media, popular, military levels, etc. Of course, we pray, we ask, we invoke and we intercede only to God, the Almighty and Exalted, because we believe in Him, in His abilities, in His omnipotence, that He embraces all things, and He is true to His promise of victory addressed to (true) believers. And “God suffices us and He is the best of Protectors.” (Quran, III, 173).
And today, when I address the Arab and Islamic peoples, it is certainly not to tell them to come to our rescue, to save us, absolutely not. We’re perfectly fine, thank God, and we are in a position of strength, and at the beginning of a confrontation on which we pin great hopes. But I wish only to make them face up to their responsibilities.
Yesterday you saw, especially the Arab peoples, the results of the Council of Arab Ministers, and what the Arab League can do. They talk themselves of the failure of what they refer to as the “Peace process”, and it has also become clear that they are unable, as governments, leaders and regimes, to do anything at all. Anyway, we never counted on them.
You, Arab and Muslim peoples, have the duty to take a stance, for the sake of your (life in the) Hereafter, in case you do believe in Heaven, and for the sake of your mortal life, your fate, your dignity, your honor, your future and the future of your children and grandchildren.
Here is the situation today: if, in this confrontation, God forbid, Israel managed to defeat the Resistance in Palestine and the Resistance in Lebanon, then all the Arab world, both governments and peoples, would be drowned forever in humiliation, without any way of salvation. The arrogance of the Zionists against Arab governments and peoples would only grow, as well as that of their US masters, who stand behind them, American and Israeli interference in the affairs of our peoples and governments would grow, and therefore, the looting of our resources would continue and worsen, as the trampling down on our civilization and culture. This region would be dislocated and dismembered, and pushed into internal sedition, etc.
Today, the Arab community and the Muslim community have an historic opportunity to unite, to get out of the division, sectarian strife and civil wars in which the United States are pushing our region and our peoples. The peoples of the Arab and Muslim worlds are now facing a historic opportunity to achieve a major historic victory against the Zionist enemy. It is not the question of who will impose his conditions on who. Today, an exceptional opportunity of this nature is before us, and I do not exaggerate.
In Lebanon, in 2000, we have offered, with limited capacity, modest efforts and a very limited number of fighters, equipment and weapons, a true example of Resistance that can defeat the army of occupation. Today, we offer an example (of Resistance), alongside the Lebanese people and all of Lebanon, even if we (Hezbollah) are the spearhead of the war, with the villages, towns and neighborhoods where our popular base is strongest, these being most heavily subjected to death and destruction. Even if no Lebanese is spared, it is mainly on our popular basis that the strikes are focused.
We also try to offer another example (different from the traditional Arab submission) in terms of endurance, power, patience, strength, courage and ability to inflict a defeat on the enemy. And in fact, this battle is not an equal battle in terms of material means (weapons and technology, where Israel clearly has the upper hand), but with regards to the soul, the spirit, the will, reason, wisdom, planning, perseverance and confidence in God the Almighty and Exalted, it is unequal but in our favor.
Where are you, O Arab and Muslim peoples? What are you doing ? How will you behave? That concerns you. As for us, when we started the Resistance in 1982, we were not looking beyond the borders (of Lebanon for any help), no. We were not expecting anything from anyone, except from God, and we relied (solely) on our people and our mujahedeen (fighters). Today we do the same.
But what I wanted to say in this sensitive time, and after several military exploits in recent days, after several surprises befallen and coming by the grace of God, I tell you this: No, today, Hezbollah is not leading Hezbollah’s battle nor Lebanon’s battle. Today, we are leading the battle of the whole (Arab and Muslim) Community. Whether we like it or not, whether the Lebanese like it or not, today, Lebanon and the Resistance in Lebanon are leading the battle of the Community.
Where is the (Arab and Muslim) Community in this battle? This is a question that I address you out of concern for your mortal life and for your life in the Hereafter.
O my brothers and sisters, and above all, O our enduring Lebanese people, O our enduring people in occupied Palestine, O honorable Resistants, put your trust in God, and ask Him for His help because He is the Best of Helpers and Assistants to achieve Victory.
Peace be upon you and God’s mercy and blessings.