Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, issued a stern warning to Israel on Wednesday in response to a recent strike in southern Beirut that resulted in the death of Hamas’s number two, Salah Al-Aruri. Nasrallah, speaking in a pre-planned speech commemorating the fourth anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp. general Qasem Soleimani’s death, emphasized that if Israel considers waging war on Lebanon, Hezbollah will engage in the conflict without any restraint, rules, limits, or restrictions.
During the televised address, Nasrallah stated, “We are not afraid of war,” while emphasizing that their current engagement in the conflict is based on meticulous calculations. The warning comes in the aftermath of accusations from Lebanese authorities and Hamas, blaming Israel for the targeted killing of Al-Aruri in Beirut’s southern suburbs on Tuesday, along with six others.
Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari did not directly comment on Al-Aruri’s death but asserted that the military is “highly prepared for any scenario.” Prior to this incident, Israeli strikes on Lebanon were mostly confined to the border area, with periodic exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israel since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7.
The killing of Al-Aruri, a high-profile figure, raised concerns about a potential escalation of hostilities. Nasrallah condemned the attack as a “major and dangerous crime” and vowed that it “will not go unanswered and unpunished,” echoing a threat made by Hezbollah the previous day. In response, Hezbollah announced several strikes on Israeli troops and positions, primarily within the border area.
Nasrallah argued that Israel had been weakened by the October 7 onslaught initiated by Hamas, stating that the country was “now on the path to extinction.” He delivered his speech as part of a planned commemoration of Qasem Soleimani’s death and is expected to address the public again on Friday.
A Lebanese security official informed AFP that guided missiles fired from an Israeli warplane were responsible for Al-Aruri’s death in a Beirut suburb. Hamas announced that Al-Aruri would be buried on Thursday in Beirut’s Shatila Palestinian refugee camp.
Since the beginning of hostilities, the toll on the Lebanese side includes 170 casualties, mostly Hezbollah members, and over 20 civilians, including three journalists. On the Israeli side, at least four civilians and nine soldiers have been reported killed, according to figures from the military.