Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is under pressure to reach a deal with Jerusalem on Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails, security officials said on Saturday.
The officials made their assessment after the Lebanese militant chief said Saturday that his organization is holding the body parts of Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed during the Second Lebanon War.
"Oh Zionists, your army is lying to you... your army has left the body parts of your soldiers in our villages and fields," Nasrallah said.
"Our mujahideen used to fight these Zionists, killing them and collecting their body parts. I am not talking about regular body parts. I tell the Israelis, we have the heads of your soldiers, we have hands, we have legs... there is even a near-complete body, a half or three-quarters of a body, from head, to chest to the torso," he added.
The security sources said the speech marked the second time in the recent past that Nasrallah made such statements.
A statement released by the IDF Spokesman's Office said the statements "constitute a cruel and cynical move by an organization that fragrantly tramples the most fundamental, ethical codes, shows no respect for human rights or the international conventions that govern these matters... we call upon all those with the most basic common sense to view him as cowardly and to condemn him."
Nasrallah addressed a crowd of followers in southern Beirut during a rally to mark the Shi'ite Ashoura festival.
The last time Nasrallah appeared in public was in September 2006 at a victory rally marking the end of the month-long war between Israel and the militant Shi'ite group. Since then, he has only addressed his supporters through video-links or on television.
Karnit Goldwasser, whose husband Ehud was kidnapped by Hezbollah militants in the cross-border raid that sparked last summer's war, said Nasrallah's speech constituted nothing new. "From our perspective, he hasn't said anything," she said.
Ayal Regev, whose brother Eldad was kidnapped along with Goldwasser, said that "by our estimation, Nasrallah did not address the abducted soldiers... It's all part of the psychological war he is carrying out."
In his speech Saturday, Nasrallah vowed that Lebanon would not accept a "surrenderist" peace plan with Israel, declaring the only way was "resistance."
"I announce that our forces are on full alert to confront any possible war against Lebanon," he said.
"If Israel carries out any new aggression against us, we promise to retaliate in a war that will change the whole map of the region," Nasrallah warned.
Referring to recent violence in the Gaza Strip, Nasrallah said: "We will not accept this oppression against the people of Palestine. I call on the Arab nation to stand and back their resistance movement's military, and financially to confront [U.S. President George W.] Bush's massacre of the people of Gaza."
"Bush wants to convince our rulers and people that Iran is the enemy, that Iran poses a danger and a threat, and that Israel is a brother, a beloved friend and neighbor for whom we must extend our hand in peace," Nasrallah said.
"Is there in history a greater forgery, deceit and hypocrisy?" he asked. Nasrallah called on Arab governments to confront Bush's "satanic visions for the Middle East," which he said serve only the interests of the U.S. and Israel.
"The entire (Arab) nation is called upon to reply to Bush's trip by staying committed to the choice of (armed) resistance and supporting resistance groups everywhere," he said.
Footage broadcast on Hezbollah's al-Manar television and other stations carried pictures of the black-turbaned Nasrallah surrounded by a sea of people.
Hezbollah supporters marched in procession with banners proclaiming: "We will not be humiliated". They also blocked suburban roads, chanting "death to America, death to Israel."
"Oh God protect Nasrallah," the huge crowd chanted. Veiled women wept as the Hezbollah leader walked among them, while men raised their fists chanting, "Nasrallah is our leader."
The Ashoura festival marks the death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, who died in a battle in 680 against the leader of what became the Sunni branch of Islam. The battle took place in Karbala, which is located in present-day Iraq.
Nasrallah further denounced Bush's tour to the Middle East last week as "devilish."
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