Hezbollah youth holding Katyushas near Nasrallah portrait
Young Hezbollah supporters holding mock ups of Katyusha rockets in front of a portrait of group leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Photo by AP
Text size

 The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah group warned Tuesday his fighters will attack Israeli ships if Israel imposed a sea blockade on Lebanon in any future war.

Hassan Nasrallah said his Iranian-backed group was capable of destroying any military or commercial ships heading to Israeli ports.

Israel imposed a sea and air embargo on Lebanon during its month-long war against Hezbollah in 2006, saying it needed to prevent the guerrillas from being resupplied with weapons.

"If you [Israel] put our coasts under siege in any future war, I say all military, civilian and commercial ships heading to Palestine's coasts on the Mediterranean will be under the fire of the Islamic resistance fighters," Nasrallah said.

Earlier this year Nasrallah threatened to hit Israel's Ben Gurion airport if the Jewish state struck Beirut's international airport in any future conflict.

"[As for] those ships which will go to any port on the Palestinian coast from north to the south, [I say] we are capable of hitting it and are determined to go into this..if
they besiege our coasts," he said.

"When the world will witness how these ships will be destroyed in Palestine's regional water nobody will dare to go there just as they will block (others) from coming to our coasts," he told thousands of supporters.

Nasrallah's comments come amid a five-day drill in Israel- dubbed "Turning Point 4"- which was launched on Sunday to test the Jewish state's preparedness against possible missile strikes from the Gaza Strip and by Hezbollah in Lebanon.


Nasrallah said Tuesday that Hezbollah now had the capability to inflict as much harm on Israel as it did in Lebanon during the 2006 war.

On Monday, U.S. President Barak Obama used talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Said Hariri in Washington to warn of the growing danger of arms smuggling to Hezbollah militants.

"The President stressed [...] the threat posed by the transfer of weapons intoLebanon in violation of UNSCR 1701," the White House said in a statement following the meeting.

United Nations Security Council resolution 1701 was passed after a month-long war between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer of 2006 and calls for the disarmament of the Shi'a Muslim group – but despite the presence of a UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, it has yet to be enforced.

Hariri's first official visit to the United States took place against a backdrop of tensions in the Middle East, U.S. efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and growing momentum toward new international sanctions on Iran, Hezbollah's major backer.

Lebanon and Syria have said they fear a possible attack by Israel after President Shimon Peres accused Syria in April of supplying Hezbollah with long-range Scud missiles capable of hitting major Israeli cities. Damascus has denied the charge and accused Israel of fomenting war.

Some U.S. officials have expressed doubt that any Scuds were actually handed over in full to Hezbollah, although they believe Syria might have transferred weapons parts.

"We obviously have grave concerns about the transfer of any missile capability to Hezbollah through Lebanon from Syria," a senior Obama administration official said on Friday, saying the issue would likely be raised in Monday's talks.

Hariri has also denied Israel's accusations, while his government has said it backs the right of the guerrilla group to keep its weapons to deter Israeli attacks. Israelhas not signaled any imminent plans to strike.