Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah emerged after a three month absence to give a wide-ranging interview to the Lebanese TV channel Al-Mayadeen. In the interview, Nasrallah reacted to the Israeli Northern Shield operation, concluded recently, for the discovery and destruction of cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah in order to carry out attacks against towns and villages on the Israeli side of the internationally recognized border. In his remarks, Nasrallah said that the tunnels that were discovered and disabled by Israel were old and hinted that there are yet undiscovered ones that remain operational. Per his usual modus operandi, Nasrallah attempted to intimidate Israeli civilians residing close to the Lebanese border by reiterating both his intention and capacity to “occupy” portions of the Galilee. Nasrallah also refuted rumors of his ill health, which were prompted by his long absence from public view, saying “I am 60 years old, and thank God, very healthy”. He explained his absence by the Israeli operation, which, he claimed, was sill ongoing.
This appearance follows a well-known pattern in which the Hezbollah leader goes into hiding whenever Israel engages in anti-Hezbollah activities only to emerge when the operation is concluded, claiming that it has not accomplished its goals and the Hezbollah was stronger than as ever, in an attempt to hurt Israeli morale and intimidate Israeli citizens. This latest installment happens when Israel is in the throes of an election campaign in which the topic of Lebanon, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran is front and center. Nasrallah’s threats, while old news, are widely reported by Israeli media and following the less than successful Second Lebanon War are taken seriously by the Israeli public. An already heated debate as to whether Israel is prepared for another round of warfare against this implacable Iranian funded and trained enemy is sure to heat up even more.