The following is an edited transcript of a speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on May 25, 2021, on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the Liberation of Lebanon.
Congratulations to the people of Palestine who have added a new victory, from Gaza to Jerusalem to the territories occupied in 1948. Condolences to the families of martyrs and best wishes for recovery to the wounded. Congratulations in particular to the cadres of the Resistance and the people of Gaza who patiently endured Israeli barbarity.
Operation Sword of al-Quds
I now come to the last battle named ‘Sword of Al-Quds’ by the Palestinian Resistance. I will not go into detail, but explain why this is a great victory and what it announces for the future of the struggle against Israel. The beginning was in Al-Quds (Jerusalem), with Israel’s insistence on ethnically cleansing Al-Quds and the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, attacks on Palestinians, preventing worshippers from praying at Al-Aqsa during Ramadan (the Palestinians from the territories of 1948, 1967 and Jerusalem itself). Israel did its best to prevent worshippers from going to Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa, and repeatedly assaulted those who did manage to get there.
There was a real threat to Al-Quds, which caused the Resistance in Gaza to issue a historic ultimatum to Israel: cease your ethnic cleansing in Sheikh Jarrah and your assaults on believers in Al-Aqsa, or we will intervene militarily. The threat was carried out by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who launched their rockets/missiles at the promised time…
Imam Khomeini said “Praise be to God who made our enemies stupid”. Netanyahu and the Israelis believed they could take over Jerusalem and Judaise it, expel Palestinian families, replace them with Jewish settlers, assault the Muslim/Christian worshippers, without anything happening, just empty protests. They did so, deeming the Arabs defeated and having normalised their relations with Israel. They believed that the Arab world had abandoned the cause, that the Palestinians of the territories occupied in 1948, of the West Bank and of Gaza were powerless.
The enemy never even imagined that Gaza could intervene militarily in defence of Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa. It hadn’t occurred to anyone within the Zionist entity, neither the political leaders, nor the military leaders, nor the security services. But Gaza surprised both enemy and friend. Israel did not imagine such a thing, and therefore persevered in its indiscriminate aggression in Al-Quds (Jerusalem). That’s why Israel was surprised and defeated.
Gaza resistance broadens its scope
Gaza’s decision is historic, and its lessons must be understood. Previously, all the wars in Gaza had causes linked to Gaza: reaction to assassinations or Israeli aggressions in Gaza, struggle against the severe siege of Gaza, etc. The Resistance’s calculations were still purely Gazan, protecting only the residents of Gaza. But what happened in this last round is that Gaza intervened to protect Al-Quds (Jerusalem), Sheikh Jarrah, Al-Aqsa. This decision is historic, exceptional, and turns things upside down. The Resistance knew it was heading for war, massacres, destruction of Gaza. But the Gaza Resistance was ready to sacrifice itself to defend Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Al-Aqsa…
All the factions of the Resistance Axis (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Iraq’s PMU and Yemeni Resistance) were in constant contact, hour by hour during this war. In the future, we will ensure that touching Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa will not only involve Gaza but the entire Resistance Axis. The Resistance in Gaza has imposed a new equation: if Israel lays its hands on Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa, Gaza is going to war. What we must now impose is that if Israel lays its hands on Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa, then there will be a regional war!
The whole Resistance Axis must be ready and make this clear to Israel: we will never allow the Al-Aqsa Mosque to be endangered. For the outcome of any regional war can only be the eradication of the Zionist entity. It is this new equation that will allow us to protect the holy city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and its Muslim and Christian holy places. We are working very seriously on it. When our holy places are in danger, there is no more red line, no more calculation.
Political consequences of the war
I will not analyse all the consequences of this war, but highlight a few of them:
1. The soul of the Resistance resurfaced in all the Palestinians, who all united and rose up as one man, in Gaza, the West Bank, the territories occupied in 1948, the Palestinian refugees all over the world, etc. The decades-long division and dislocation is over: the Palestinian people are united.
2. The Palestinian cause has been revived all over the world. It was deemed buried once and for all by Trump and normalisation, but this cause has reclaimed its prominent place all over the world, in all media, all minds and all consciousnesses.
3. The Palestinian identity and the dream of Liberation have been brought back to the fore.
4. Belief in the Armed Resistance and the Intifada has once again become the best choice to obtain Liberation. The soul of Resistance has returned to our peoples.
5 All the claims of the normalisers, who said that the Palestinians themselves had abandoned the cause, have been proven to be untrue. The Palestinians have proven that they remain committed to their cause and ready to make any sacrifices.
6. The process of normalisation itself is in jeopardy, as are all the Arab regimes that are committed to it.
7. The Deal of the Century is definitely buried. The Resistance in Gaza and the Israeli failure to win made the Biden administration abandon Trump’s concessions. Biden put East Jerusalem back on the table and called on the Israelis not to expropriate the residents of Sheikh Jarrah. The heart of the Deal of the Century was to give all of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) to Israel, but that is forgotten now. Of course, Biden did not intervene for humanitarian reasons, but because he saw Israel’s helplessness and the risk of an explosion in the region, which thwarted his own international priorities.
8. The true face of Israel, barbaric, bloodthirsty, slaughtering children, racist and Jewish supremacist, clearly returned to everyone’s eyes and mind, despite Israel’s grip on media and social networks. Israel couldn’t care less about the opinion of the Arab world, but not that of the Western world, and we have seen that even EU countries were forced to condemn Israel in one way or another, and put it in an awkward position.
9. One of the most important political results is that the compass of conflict in the region has settled again on Israel…
Military consequences of the war
After discussing the political consequences of this Gaza-Israel war, I now come to the military consequences. We must take into account the scales (in this asymmetric conflict): on the one hand, Israel is the regular Army of a state, US-backed, which has the most powerful air force in the region, and on the other hand, Gaza, under siege for more than 15 years, is a tiny territory surrounded on all sides, with over 2 million inhabitants, and an ungrateful geography (from the point of view of Resistance opportunities: no mountains, etc.). Some weapons from Gaza are imported and others are manufactured locally. But we can clearly see that despite their very limited possibilities, and Israel’s total control over information (Gaza is under constant surveillance by all means: drones, electronic surveillance, spies, etc.), Gaza has been able to demonstrate courage, sagacity and victorious struggle against one of the most militarily powerful states in the world.
I will quickly set out the military consequences of this conflict:
1. The entry of Gaza into the protection equation of Al-Quds, Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah. In fact, Gaza has entered the issues of all of Palestine, shifting from defence to attack.
2. Despite the severe siege, the Resistance was able to greatly improve its rocket/missile and fighting capacities. For 11 days, they continued to fire rockets/missiles despite Israel’s best efforts, its planes, drones, artillery strikes, etc.
3. Gaza even proved its ability to fire rockets/missiles at times announced in advance, to the point that some brothers were surprised, advising not to give this information to the enemy (which would allow it to better defend itself), but it was a point of strength (psychological warfare).
4. The number of rockets/missiles fired was very large, hundreds every day, which reflects very large stocks and great skill. The type of rockets/missiles fired, the targets hit, the damage done, it was all very powerful.
5. All of this shook the Israeli state like never before. All countries can go through civil wars, very trying crises, and remain. But Israel is a fake, artificial state that has been shaken to the point that its very existence has been called into question. Israel is a state whose precondition for existence is security. If security is no longer there, all Israelis (who all have dual citizenships) will go back to where they come from: Europe, USA, Australia… At the first (serious) storm, Israeli society will pack up and leave! This sets Israel apart from all other countries: the Palestinians, despite 1948 and 1967, remained attached to their land. They are willing to sacrifice themselves by the hundreds of thousands to return there, until this day. They have not abandoned their territory! But Israel, no! The Israelis have their second passport ready, their suitcase ready, and they will leave at the first storm: if neither the government nor the military can protect them, why would they stay? This consequence, namely to shake Israel to such an extent, is unprecedented, even during the 2006 war. Never before has such a large area of Israel been under rocket fire: Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva, Ashdod, airports, the Negev… 70% of Israelis were holed up in shelters for 11 days ! The worst for Israel was not the material losses, but the psychological losses: the warnings rang everywhere, introducing terror into their hearts. It doesn’t really matter if the rockets hit their target or not!
6. In addition to all the economic losses and the feeling of insecurity at home, it is the same abroad: who is going to come and invest in Israel without guarantee of security for their investments, without stability? Israel’s dream of becoming an economical/financial hub in the Mediterranean is over!
7. For the first time, the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 entered into revolt. It’s not just Gaza and the West Bank anymore. All Israeli leaders recognise that this is an existential threat for Israel!
8. The Gaza Resistance was also exceptional: the way they carried out the fight, the way they prepared for a ground invasion, to the point that the enemy did not dare to set foot in Gaza, all of this is a huge victory.
9. The Resistance was able to present to its people, to the whole world and to its enemies a brilliant image of victory.
On the other hand, let us see the failures of the enemy, as admitted by their officials and experts:
1. Failure to achieve any strategic success after 11 days. Nothing!
2. Israeli officials speak of tactical successes, but these are insignificant for such a powerful army: destroying some tunnels, killing some cadres, it’s negligible! The rocket fire could not be stopped, and Israel did not even know where it was coming from. Even when they knew the time of the rocket salvos in advance, their planes and drones were unable to locate them. The Iron Dome was also a failure. The 90% interception figure is a lie, it’s more like 50-60%. The damage proves that their 90% figure for the Iron Dome is a lie. The proof of the failure of the Iron Dome is also the fact that Netanyahu asked for military aid from Biden, who immediately granted it. The rockets kept hitting all of occupied Palestine!
3. The failure of the trap set for the Resistance in Gaza, which Israel had been preparing to neutralise for years, but the Israeli Army proved to be powerless.
4. The failure to prevent weapons from reaching the Resistance. The rockets did not stop and could have been launched at this rate for months on end. Israel is incapable not only of knowing where the rockets are, but has no idea how many they are, which is a colossal failure of their intelligence.
5. The failure to locate (and assassinate) the main military leaders. Israel came up with several names, including Hamas Commander Mohamed Dayf, but they failed to kill them. That some (minor field commanders) were killed is normal in a war, but it is far from what Israel wanted.
6. Israel, both in terms of political, military and security leaders, was unable, as I said, not only to anticipate, but even to imagine that Gaza would enter the scene militarily to protect Al-Quds, Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah, just as Israel was unable to anticipate or imagine that all of Palestine would rise up in the face of Israeli aggression at Al-Quds.
7. The worst part is that Israel found itself completely taken aback, lost, not knowing what to do with this unforeseen explosion on all sides.
And now I ask a question to the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, Aviv Kochavi, this so-called ‘philosopher’ who for 3 years has been rethinking Israel’s strategy, organising colossal manoeuvres, etc. His main thought was that the infantry was the basis for achieving victory. But this great strategic thinker bit the dust against Gaza, despite all his measures, all his manoeuvres, all his preparations. There was not even a land incursion into Gaza! It’s a humiliating mark of their defeat.
I am not claiming that Israel is incapable of carrying out a major ground operation, no, but I am claiming that the morale of the Israeli troops is shaped by fear: they are terrified at the idea of a ground operation, whether in Gaza, Lebanon or anywhere. Despite their technology, weaponry, planes, tanks, etc., they are scared to death to conduct a ground operation. They are still haunted by their bloody debacle in 2014 in Gaza (+60 soldiers killed), with soldiers they did not even know if they were alive. That the so-called most powerful army in the region is so afraid is a major strategic failure.
Lastly, Israel has failed to present even an image of victory, short of a real victory! Polls indicate that no more than 20% of Israelis consider Israel to have won. So much for the description, consequences and lessons to be learned from this confrontation in Gaza.
In conclusion, looking back on all that has happened over the past few days, months and years, the Middle East has gone through the 10 most difficult years it has ever experienced. Entire countries were targeted for destruction. But the Resistance Axis thwarted these plans. The Resistance Axis not only preserved the Middle East, but also enabled Palestine to stand tall and achieve victories. If it hadn’t been for Iran who faced ISIS alongside the local forces in Iraq and Syria, where would we be? What would have become of Lebanon, of the other countries? Iran has overcome the threat of (US) war, triumphed over sanctions, and is heading towards presidential elections. ISIS is almost eradicated in Iraq. All of Iraq supported Gaza and the Resistance. Syria is recovering from ISIS, and will also hold presidential elections tomorrow. Lebanon is holding on despite everything. But imagine what the situation would be in Palestine if Iran, Syria and Lebanon had been defeated? Where would we be, with all the regimes having normalised with Israel? Today, the Arab-Muslim world stands alongside Palestine, from one end to the other, and joins the Resistance camp at least at the level of the populations.
And in terms of political and military forces, Yemen has joined the Resistance Axis, and it is ready to share its bread with Gaza despite the famine there [Nasrallah is moved to tears]: the solidarity of famine-stricken Yemen with Palestine, ready to share the very bread it lacks, while the billionaire oil monarchies normalise with Israel! This is a basis that makes you optimistic about the future.
The Liberation of Al-Quds is closer than ever, and the demise of Israel is very near.