BEIRUT — The leader of Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah said Tuesday any violations of Jerusalem and the sites holy to Muslims and Christians would lead to a regional war.
Speaking for the first time since the cease-fire ending the 11-day war between Hamas and Israel, Hassan Nasrallah said Gaza’s militant groups have proved that no one can sit idle when Israel attacks the holy sites or tries to undermine the Palestinians’ right to the city.
Even from besieged Gaza and with limited capabilities and home-made rockets, Hamas and other groups responded to what he called Israeli violations and attacks outside of territory it controlled, Nasrallah said. He described it as a great victory that paralyzed the Israeli state.
The war was triggered by weeks of clashes in Jerusalem between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a site revered by Jews and Muslims.
The site has seen several outbreaks of violence between Israelis and Palestinians over the years. The protests were directed at Israel’s policing of the area during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers
“The Israelis must understand that breaching the holy city and al-Aqsa mosque and sanctuaries won’t stop at Gaza resistance,” Nasrallah said during his 100-minute speech.
Nasrallah was speaking on the 21st anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon after a protracted war, characterized by roadside bombs and sniper attacks.
Hezbollah’s shadow loomed large during Israel and Hamas’ 11-day battle in Gaza, with the possibility it could unleash its arsenal of missiles — far more powerful than Hamas’ — in support of the Palestinians. But the Iran-backed group remained on the sidelines.
Daily protests, including by members of Hezbollah and Palestinians in Lebanon, took place along the frontier with Israel in solidarity with Gaza. One Hezbollah member was killed when Israel opened fire to push back against protesters who tried to break through the volatile frontier.
Nasrallah added: “Jerusalem means a regional war. All the resistance movements cannot stand by and watch this happening if the holy city is in real, grave danger.”