Hezbollah Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah did not expect
that Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers would lead to a war,
he stated on Sunday in an interview with Lebanon's New TV station.
"We did not think, even one per cent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude,” stated Nasrallah. “You ask me, if I had known on July 11 … that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not."
He also said that Lebanon does not need to worry about a second round of fighting, calling Israel’s latest attacks a provocation, and stating that Hezbollah will not respond to them.
"If we responded to these provocations, we would be in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and this could open the debate on a second resolution, which [US President George W.] Bush wants and which is connected with disarming the resistance," he said.
He does not believe Israelis are planning for a second round, but are threatening Lebanon, in order to pressure the government to surrender to Israel’s new demands, including the deployment of UN forces at the airport in Beirut, at Lebanese ports and along Lebanon's border with Syria.
“If the Israelis intended a second round, then they should reinforce their positions and presence (in south Lebanon)… not withdraw them. Their displaced people are going back and they have started to rebuild the north. Someone who acts like that doesn't seem to be going to war. We are not heading to a second round."
Nasrallah is not against sending Unifil [UN Interim Force in Lebanon] to the South of Lebanon as long as no attempt is made to disarm Hezbollah. UNFIL is supposed to join a planned force of 15 000 Lebanese troops in the South. "We will support the Lebanese soldiers and facilitate their role; we will also avoid any act that might put them in an awkward situation," Nasrallah said.
In regards to the prisoners exchange, Nasrallah stated that contacts have been made recently to begin the negotiations and the United Nations and Italy have expressed interest in helping.
"The Israelis have acknowledged that this [issue] is headed for negotiations and a [prisoners] exchange," he said. "However, according an Israeli official, "There are no negotiations over the exchange of prisoners."
Nasrallah is also demanding that Israel ends its occupation of the Lebanese Shebaa farms, stating,” The resistance's duty and responsibility consists of liberating any occupied Lebanese land."
*Sourced from Al Jazeera and the Lebanese Daily Star