Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah stated on Monday that Israel’s ground invasion into South Lebanon will not prevent Hezbollah from firing rockets into Northern Israel.
Israel’s declared goal, of ending rocket attacks will have no political results. "I assure you that this goal will not be achieved, God willing, by an Israeli incursion," Nasrallah told As-Safir newspaper.
In response to reports about diplomatic efforts to end the fighting, Nasrallah said his main concern is ending the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, though he is open to discussing other initiatives.
“We are truly in a state of war and Hizbullah’s priority is to stop the savage Zionist aggression on Lebanon. We do not feel that we are currently interested in discussing ideas or initiatives. The priority now is to stop the Israeli aggression, and when things reach the phase of serious discussions over ideas and initiatives we will be ready to propose our ideas," Nasrallah stated.
He ruled out any negotiations unless it involved a prisoner swap, in which Hezbollah would free the two Israeli soldiers in exchange for Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.
He also commented on Israel’s presence in the Lebanese village Maroun al-Ras, where fighting has occurred, and Israel has reported to have gained a foothold. "The enemy is seeking a military achievement in order to exaggerate it, and use it in the media and in politics," Nasrallah said.
Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz responded to Nasrallah’s statement, stating, "The ground activities alone are not designed to change the reality but it supports the other efforts we are making from the air, the sea, and intelligence. The aim is to strike the terrorists capture whoever can be taken. We do not want to kill them but we want them to stop the terror. Whoever says ‘enough’ and comes out with raised hands, we will be responsible for their fate and treat them as best as possible.”
According to a senior air force officer, Halutz was also reported to have ordered the air force to blast 10 buildings in South Beirut, for every rocket Hezbollah fires on the Israeli city of Haifa.
Hundreds of Lebanese civilians have already been killed in the 13-day old offensive, while bombardment has caused severe damage to civilian complexes such as schools, hospitals, and residential buildings, including the largest milk factory in the Bekka valley and the Lebanese Broadcasting Channel television station, which were hit over the weekend.