Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that Thursday's events – Israel's strikes in Lebanon following a barrage of rockets fired by the Iran-backed group from southern Lebanon into Israel – is a dangerous development, the likes of which have not been seen since the last war between the two sides.
"We are willing to sustain damage now, and not allow Israel room to maneuver in Lebanon," Nasrallah said in a televised address. "Yesterday's message was clear: Despite the hardships in Lebanon, we will not hesitate to respond."
He added that Hezbollah operated according to a clear equation: "open land for open land," referring to the group's decision to aim its rockets primarily at unpopulated areas in northern Israel. "We will not allow this equation to be broken."
He added, "Don't count on the fact that there is a crisis in Lebanon," referring to the country's dire economic and political situation. "Israel cannot gamble on a loss of control or dispute within Lebanon, because despite all of the disputes, the resistance forces will continue to act."
Earlier on Saturday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards chief, Hossein Salami, met with Nasrallah’s deputy, Naim Qassem, and told him that the latest scuffle “proved to the leader of the Zionist entity [Israel] that the equations have not changed, and that the equations are set elsewhere,” rather than by Israel. He added that "The Zionists have internalized that if Hezbollah uses its full force, they will be forced to flee."
On Thursday, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for launching 19 rockets from southern Lebanon into Israel. In response, the IDF conducted artillery strikes in the area.
According to the IDF Spokesperson, the rockets were fired from south Lebanon at the Golan Heights before 11 A.M. Three fell within Lebanon and 16 were crossed into Israel, aimed at open fields. Ten were intercepted by the Iron Dome. There were no casualties reported.
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The IDF says Hezbollah deliberately fired at open areas in the Golan Heights. As Lebanon is embroiled in an internal economic crisis, Hezbollah appears to be justifying its existence by attacking Israel, the IDF says.
However, the IDF announced that both sides are not interested in an escalation, but that Hezbollah might be trying to copy the situation at the Gaza border, in which rockets fired at open areas won't be responded to as harshly as those fired at populated areas.
Reuters contributed to this report.