The Hezbollah representative in Iran struck a defiant tone today, warning that his militant group plans to widen its attacks on Israel until “no place” is safe for Israelis.
“We are going to make Israel not safe for Israelis. There will be no place they are safe,” Hossein Safiadeen told a conference.
“You will see a new Middle East in the way of Hezbollah and Islam, not in the way of Rice and Israel,” Safiadeen said.
Safiadeen reinforced earlier threats by Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah to widen their attacks, which have included unprecedented missile strikes deep into northern Israel.
The comments by Safiadeen reflected the deep opposition within Hezbollah to the efforts to broker a truce to halt the two-week fighting, including apparent attempts by Arab powers to pressure Syria into ending its support for Hezbollah and leave Iran as its lone major backer.
Iran and Syria are the main sources of funds and equipment for Hezbollah, which was founded in the early 1980s and took inspiration from Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Syria said yesterday it was willing to work with the United States and others to press for an end to the worse Arab-Israel battles in 24 years – but set conditions that Israel is unlikely to accept. They include a broader regional peace initiative that would discuss return of the Golan Heights, which was captured by Israel in 1967.
Arab powerhouses Egypt and Saudi Arabia also were pushing Syria to end its support for Hezbollah fighters, Arab diplomats in Cairo said.
Safiadeen said he “had no news” about Syria considering withdrawing its support for Hezbollah, which touched off the crisis on July 12 with a cross-border raid that captured two Israeli soldiers.
“We will expand attacks,” he said. “The people who came to Israel, (they) moved there to live, not to die. If we continue to attack, they will leave.”
Israel claims Iran has supplied Hezbollah with long-range missiles, which have hit the port of Haifa and other places. Iran denies the charges, but it does not hide its high-level support for Hezbollah.
Among those attending today’s conference was a top Foreign Ministry official and General Mirfaisal Bagherzadeh of the powerful Revolutionary Guards.
“This war will be remembered as the beginning of the end for Israel,” Safiadeen said.
The Palestinian ambassador, Salah Zavavi, said he believes the chances for a comprehensive political solution have passed. Israel is also battling in the Gaza Strip against militiamen backed by Hamas, which claims to hold an Israeli soldier following an ambush last month. Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections last month, but has been snubbed by Israel and many Western countries.
“The resistance groups will not accept a political end to this,” he said. “They will not put down their weapons.”