Monday, February 2, 2009

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah Speech January 29th

During such days in 2004, the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon achieved the most important swap operation deal – I believe – during which a group of dear resistance fighters prisoners were liberated on top of whom were his Eminence Sheikh Abdulkarim Obeid and Hajj Abu Ali Dirani and a group of dear resistance fighters. Also a great number of martyrs' bodies were liberated. We announced that day as the "Liberation Day" and we made a promise to all our brothers in the Israelis prisons on top of whom is brethren Samir Qintar that we would work hard to set them free. Afterwards, Allah Almighty helped us achieve that. Thus was Al Ridwan Operation. A great portion of the results of the operation was revealed. There remained some sides which I will handle today Inshallah. But first, I believe that this dear commemoration – the anniversary of the liberation of this blessed group of resistance fighters and martyrs – is an occasion to recall, reflect on and show solidarity with the cause of Palestinian, Syrian, Jordanian and Arab detainees – especially the detainees of Al Qods and the Palestinian lands occupied since 1948 who are facing hard conditions. The total number of detainees is around 11 thousands including a large number of children, women, sick and prisoners with special health cases. This issue must remain vivid in the conscience and heart of the nation – leaders, governments, parties, active forces and peoples. It must be viewed as a national cause to struggle for on one side and as a highly humanistic and moral issue on the other side. That's because in the case of those detainees and prisoners we also witness a show of steadfastness, challenge, firmness and strength as well as a show of suffering and hardships in the occupation prisons. The same goes for the families of those prisoners and detainees. So I seize this day and this occasion as an opportunity to highlight the issue of Palestinian and Arab detainees in Israeli prisons which is in a stage near to oblivion. Back to the issues related to Al Ridwan Operation, we have the issue of brethren detainee Yahya Skaff and sister martyr Dalal Moghrabi. In 2004 Swap we insisted that the swap include detainee Yahya Skaff. The Israelis claimed that Yahya was martyred among the group of martyr Dalal Moghrabi. We demanded receiving his body if he was a martyr as the Israelis claim. In that stage, complexities hampered that from taking place. During Al Ridwan Operation, we insisted that we want the bodies of the martyrs of the operation of martyr Dalal Moghrabi including the body of Dalal and the brethrens who were martyred with her including brethren Yahya Skaff as the Israelis assume or claim. And actually during Al Ridwan Operation, we received information and files on the operation – i.e. the operation of martyr Dalal Moghrabi. They also said that these remains were for four martyrs. It was clear that the remains were old. They said they are for these four martyrs: Dalal, Yahya and the two other martyrs. Yet the Israelis couldn't say which are the remains of Dalal or Yahya or the other martyrs claiming that when they were buried, there was chaos and the numbers were not specified accurately.

In Al Ridwan Operation we received these remains as part of a great number of bodies and remains of martyrs. We could specify accurately the identities of the rest of the martyrs through evidences, information and other given clues. At times we didn't need DNA analysis and at others we needed this analysis. As for these remains, the analyses in Lebanese laboratories didn't reach any satisfactory results. This is the reason for the delay until now. So we had to send samples of the remains of the four martyrs to the most important laboratories in France. The analysis procedure took that much time because the remains are so old and this is natural pursuant to previous experiences in previous swap operations. At times the analysis of bones - and not remains - to verify results took between three and four months. So the time consumed by the process is natural.

Few days ago we got the results which were unhelpful. So through the DNA analysis we can't say that any of the remains are for sister Dalal or brethren Yahya or the other martyrs. Consequently we consider that these remains are for unknown martyrs whose identity we could not identify. Accordingly, we informed the concerned families. As for sister Dalal, it is confirmed through several tangible verifications, photos and evidences – and this is well-known to her family and the public – that Dalal was martyred in the operation. So as for Dalal, the debate is not that of martyrdom or livelihood. It is rather whether the remains are for Dalal or not. We can't say that any of the remains are for martyr Dalal and consequently the issue is in the hands of the family of martyr Dalal Moghrabi.

As for brethren Yahya Skaff, we informed his dear family -who endured long and was cooperative with us all through the past years – of the same results. Consequently, starting this moment we can't from our side settle the issue. I can decisively say that none of the four remains we have are for brethren Yahya Skaff supposedly he was martyred. Consequently, suppositions remain open concerning Yahya Skaff. Is he a detainee in Israeli prisons and Israel still denies that? Is he missing and consequently his fate is unknown? We don't know if he's alive, a martyr, a martyr whose remains are missing, or a martyr whose body Israel still keeps. These are the open assumptions. We believe that the family of brethren Yahya Skaff is the party concerned above all to conclude this issue through religious and legal authorities to which they resort and belong. That's because the issue of the death of livelihood of a person is not a simple issue. It has religious and legal dimensions. In the Islamic Resistance, we don't find ourselves entitled to settle this issue. Consequently it's the family of detainee Yahya who are to settle this issue pursuant to their convictions, what's given to them and the legal and religious authorities to which they resort. Accordingly, the cause of brethren Yahya and sister Dalal is clear. We can't say that we have the remains of any of the martyrs who were martyred in the operation of Dalal Moghrabi.

As for brethren Mohammad Farran, we have also reported to his family when the Al Ridwan Operation was first carried out that the Israelis basically deny that Mohammad reached their hands besides being a prisoner or a martyr in their hands. Indeed they are claiming that. We can't agree on this claim because the fishing boat which brethren Mohammad Farran used to sail on reached the hands of the Israelis and when it was returned to the UN forces it bore the blood of Mohammad. Consequently we hold the Israelis responsible for the fate of brethren Mohammad Farran. The cause may be classified as that of an alive prisoner, a missing or an unknown or a martyr whose body the Israelis are keeping or the like. I make the same statement. We are not the authority concerned from the religious and legal perspectives to settle this case. It's the family of brethren Mohammad Farran and the religious and legal authorities they resort to who settle this issue. Accordingly, these are names put forth before us in previous and future swap operations. I believe things are clear now.

As for the continuity of this file, we have lists of a great number of Lebanese and Palestinian martyrs. All the Lebanese martyrs were martyred on the Lebanese territory. We also have documents and photos – some journalistic and some private – which show the occupation soldiers detaining these bodies and transferring them through helicopters or military vehicles. These martyrs either fell in the hands of the Israeli soldiers during "posts-operations" which the resistance used to execute or were found by the Israelis later and detained. As for the Palestinian martyrs, a great number of them were martyred on the Lebanese territory especially in 1982 during the invasion and their bodies were detained. A number of them were martyred in the Palestinian territories especially in northern occupied Palestine. I can't claim that the lists and numbers we have are accurate because there might be martyrs who were not reported because of the conditions we passed through for 25 or 30 years. However I may say that the total number of Lebanese and Palestinian martyrs is around 350. These martyrs are still in the hands of the Israelis or at least their bodies were not restored to their families and they were in an area controlled by the Israelis. So the issue of martyrs is still open. We have another issue – the missing. Indeed the number of missing is hundreds. From time to time, new given is revealed. Most of the missing are Lebanese. The overwhelming majority is Lebanese but there are some Palestinians. I mean here the missing whose fate Israel is held responsible for. That means either they were arrested on Israeli checkpoints, or the occupation troops broke through their homes and arrested them and thus they disappeared, or they were arrested on checkpoints of militia adherent to Israel i.e. the militia of Southern Lebanon Army or Saed Haddad Army (as previously known), or this militia broke into their homes, arrested and detained them in prisons. Witnesses say that there were detainees in the prisons of this militia who later disappeared. We classify such persons as missing because years have passed on their cases and Israel is held totally responsible for their fate because they were kidnapped by Israeli troops or by collaborating militias on territories controlled by the Israeli Army. This file is still open. Indeed numbers and names need to be controlled whether those of martyrs or missing. Before I conclude this file and move to another, I make a national, humanistic and moral responsible call on the Lebanese political authority – to the Lebanese government as we have a national unity government - who for years has been working to rebuild the state and to assume its responsibilities. This file is above all the responsibility of the Lebanese state. Indeed as a resistance, we will not abandon our responsibilities not for one moment. These are our brethrens, people and dear ones – whether we are talking about the bodies of martyrs -and we know the wishes of their families to restore them- or the missing whose case is a humanistic catastrophe for their families, wives, sons and daughters. We will not abandon this cause. But on the anniversary of Liberation Day, I like to call on the Lebanese government who is above all responsible for this case to assume its responsibility in this perspective. In what process? What would it do? How would it do it? This is its responsibility. It's not I who decide how the Lebanese government would act in this case. We will not abandon our responsibilities and are ready for whatever help and cooperation in this field.

I move now to the case of the four missing Iranian diplomats. First, I want to disperse any illusions should some say why is this issue being raised now and was not evoked from the beginning. When Al Ridwan Operation first took place, I along with the concerned brethrens get acquainted with the file. It's clear that there are very critical details. But during the reception of the freed prisoners on top of whom is Samir Qintar and the bodies of the martyrs, there was a national inclination to hold a national ceremony. We all wanted to go to the airport. Media means were all interested in the event. So there was a positive national atmosphere which is thanked. We saw then that opening the file of the four Iranian diplomats - if we were to handle the issue as it is – will cause a gap in that national atmosphere, or at least the national ceremony would be spoiled one way or another. Thus the nation will be taken from the atmosphere of a great national ceremony to an internal debate. And you know what it is like when the Lebanese encounter each other. We'd be in one atmosphere and we'd be in another. This is the true reason. So when the issue was to be postponed, I linked it with that of the DNA analysis so to say the final statement on all the files related to Al Ridwan Operation altogether. I didn't expect that to take months. So we were obliged to wait and announce the results altogether. So the timing is directly related with the nature of information, the national ceremony and the delay in the results of DNA analysis. So in this file, we are not working on the basis of elections, political polarization or anything else. You will find out through my presentation of the file that it is a responsible presentation that has nothing to do with any debate with the aim of picking on anyone. As for the four Iranian diplomats, whether in the previous swap operation in 2004 or in Al Ridwan Operation, we reached the same conclusion. Let's say – we were furnished with the same conclusion. But in Al Ridwan Operation we had a complete file of Israeli investigations which the Israelis claim they carried out. Indeed as for me, the Israelis are my enemy. Consequently I can't trust what the Israelis furnish me with. All what the Israelis furnish us with needs investigation and scrutinizing on our behalf. In brief, the report is lengthy and we'd see later if there is any interest in broadcasting it in the media as there is a great number of names involved. So it's critical. Anyway, the outcome on which the Israelis insist - which we can't give in to and if we are to verify we need cooperation – says: the Israelis claim that the four Iranian diplomats were kidnapped by the Lebanese Forces in 1982. The Israelis claim that the Lebanese Forces liquidated the diplomats and buried them in some places. In the report the Israelis specify some places in which they were possibly buried. This is the conclusion reached by the Israelis and which they claim in the report. Indeed I contacted our Iranian brethrens then and made the report. As for us, we have a given which say that the four Iranian diplomats are in Israeli prisons. There are some evidences that go in this direction. So we can't believe the Israeli denial whether in the case of the four diplomats or in the case of brethren Yahya Skaff and brethren Mohammad Farran which we handled before. That's because the Israelis previously denied the presence of prisoners and detainees for years then it was verified that the Israelis are arresting them. We give as an example the five brethrens whom the Lebanese Forces handed to Israel. They were arrested by the Lebanese Forces and then they were handed to Israel. Israel denied it received them. They remained missing for five years. Five years later we knew via some letters that they are present in Israeli prisons. They were later liberated in one of the swap operations. So Israel has antecedents in denying then the opposite would be proved. So how are we to handle this issue? Now to some limit which is verified and undisputable – I mean the Lebanese, the Israelis and I believe that officials in the Lebanese Forces and all the Lebanese as well as the Iranians and the Syrians and all who worked in the security of Lebanon know for sure that the four Iranian diplomats were in the protection of the Internal Security Forces and were kidnapped by the Lebanese Forces. This is certain. It's certain that for a period of time they were alive in the hands of the Lebanese Forces and in one of the prisons of the Lebanese Forces. This is certain and undisputable. Henceforth, information is lost. Did the Lebanese Forces Party liquidate and kill them. If it killed them where are their bodies? In what places are they buried? Do they still have bodies or were their bodies extinguished? We have no answers to these questions. Are they still alive in the hands of the Lebanese Forces? Indeed this is a valid assumption even if it is weak. Did the Lebanese Forces hand them to the Israelis? At that time, to a certain extent, the Lebanese Forces had relations and coordination with the Israelis. So this is also a valid assumption. What is demanded now and what helps in this perspective is the stance of the Lebanese Forces. Indeed I will not address the Lebanese Forces. I would rather address the Lebanese government again. Those Iranian diplomats were accredited in Lebanon. They were protected by the Security Forces i.e. they were protected by the Lebanese government. They were kidnapped and detained by the Lebanese Forces at that time. So the Lebanese Forces Party knows their fate. Did it kill them? Did it hand them to the Israelis? The Lebanese government is concerned in revealing their fate and making the reality clear especially that the Lebanese Forces Party is a partner in the current government. The Justice Ministry is in its hand. We are ready to give any evidences we got or we received disregarding whether we adopt these evidences or not because some of this given came from the side of the enemy during the swap operation. So the Lebanese Forces is the side able to settle or put the case of the Iranian diplomats on the right track again by saying what it has on this issue. It must answer clearly: when it kidnapped the Iranian diplomats, did it execute them? Where are their bodies? Did it hand them to the Israelis? The statement from the Lebanese Forces is a strong evidence to continue the case with the Israelis through future swap operations. This is the key for this issue. I want to remind all the concerned sides of the humanistic dimension of the case. These four Iranian diplomats have families, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, relatives and friends who are suffering since 1982. So a clear answer helps on the humanistic level. We are not arousing this file to increase our score politically or to open wounds of the past or the present. The others search at times for absurd, trivial and fabricated issues to create political events and informative debates. But we are before a humanistic and moral issue which does not aim at achieving any political goals. This is all what is related to Al Ridwan Operation. I believe things are very clear and evident by now.

The other issue I want to tackle in this press conference has to do with Gaza. Indeed I am not inclined to tackle the internal status in Lebanon but I have no objection on answering any question that has to do with what I have presented or with the internal status. We can't give priority to one point over the other in the internal status. There is not enough time. I am not giving a lecture or making a speech. Secondly they will say why I tackled this and not that issue. After all, it's been a long time since I last tackled the internal status. So I'll leave that to the question-answer phase.

As for Gaza, I don't want to make a total evaluation or analysis or classification of what took place and its consequences. I only want to remind and stress some responsibilities pursuant to our evaluation which I will say briefly. Since the first day of Gaza War, I talked in various occasions. Here I stress the aims pointed out then for the war. There was an American decision from Bush's administration backed internationally and by some Arabs to exploit the last chance to Bush's administration and before Obama takes over the US presidency to change the facts. This is the phrase used by Livney. I searched among all the goals. It was clear they did not announce any goals making use of their experience in Lebanon. I noticed that Barak made more use of the War on Lebanon. In one of his statements which the media did not notice or focus but I read in one of the translations from Hebrew. He said our goal is not to stop rocket launching or weapon smuggling. He made use of the lessons of July War in the sense that first he knows that he is incapable of achieving these goals while facing the will and steadfastness of the resistance. Secondly, he denies that these were his goals so if he failed to achieve them he would say basically these were not the goals. Now if they were achieved, he will present them as great results of the military operation. We had a real problem in searching in the statements made by Israeli officials and seizing a goal. What is the real actual goal behind the war and aggression against Gaza? As for the expression of changing facts, it is true. I believe there are a superior goal and an inferior goal. The superior goal was exterminating the resistance in Gaza Strip, toppling Hamas government and wiping out Hamas and the rest of the resistance factions. This was the superior goal. The inferior goal was forcing the resistance, Hamas and the resistance to submit psychologically, politically and morally and consequently agree to the conditions which will be presented in the framework of a new settlement. So there were a superior goal and an inferior goal. Thus this war was launched. They set three stages for it:

The first stage: aerial bombardment which was a stage in itself apart from the land operation. They expected that the aerial bombardment of a limited area like Gaza will put an end of the resistance or at least let it submit. But eight days of continuous aerial bombardment did not make the resistance fall or submit.

Then the second stage comes: the land operation in open areas. You know that there aren't valleys and mountains there as in southern Lebanon. This stage develops to besieging cities, towns and villages and to carrying out limited land operations.

The third set stage was land incursions of Palestinian cities and towns. The second stage failed to put an end to the resistance and make it submit. Here we must praise the firmness of the political leadership of the resistance, the legendary steadfastness of the resistance fighters in Palestine and Gaza and the historical stand of the people of Gaza. This firmness, steadfastness and heroic stand crippled the first stage from achieving its goals. That also prevented the second stage from achieving its goals and gave an image that proves that the resistance is ready to fight until the last blood drop and the last bullet. As time was limited, as public and other movements increased in the Arab and Islamic world and internationally and as the Israelis started to comprehend that their troop incursions into cities will cost them massive losses, the Israelis were forced to put an end to the aggression unilaterally and without achieving any of their declared or hidden goals. They were left to say we restored our deterrence power. Now do killing children and women and demolishing homes restore one's deterrence power? They did that in Lebanon and their deterrence image was scattered. The resistance here and there confronted the few incursions and inflicted losses in the enemy's vehicles and the enemy's soldiers and officers. Rockets were also launched from Gaza. I'm not trying to encourage, instigate or prevent. This is truly a Palestinian internal issue. I want to say that the Israelis are saying now that what they claimed of repairing their deterrence image was scattered in the past few days. This is very similar to the operation which took place after July Aggression 1993 in southern Lebanon and led to the death of 11 Israeli soldiers. Upon close and objective scrutiny, what took place in Gaza – without any exaggeration or excitement – is an Israeli flop in achieving any of its goals. It's a military and political flop. Today some members of Vingrad Committee emerged to say that the outcome of Gaza War is similar to the outcome of Lebanon's Second War. I believe that such voices will rise even more with time because during the aggression the media was besieged. Voices were silenced and the officers and soldiers were not allowed to speak out. Consequently, much of the truth and many events which took place in Gaza are not disclosed so far. From our position as a resistance, we consider what took place in Gaza as a great victory for the Palestinian resistance and a massive flop for the Israeli aggression and all those who stood behind the Israeli aggression. But the daily aggression is still ongoing. The massive and vast war stopped but the war which was going on before the aggression did not stop. This is what I want to point to. I don't want to go into any debate. Those who didn't recognize the victory of the resistance in Lebanon won't for the very reasons recognize the victory in Palestine. Those who don't recognize the victory of the resistance in Lebanon - while the Israelis unanimously agree on their defeat and failure - will not recognize the victory of the resistance in Palestine- while some Israelis try for some electoral reasons deceive the people saying they gained victory even if they were defeated and the resistance was defeated even if it gained victory. Neither any strategic, tactical, scientific or objective debates nor studies and researches centers would make any change in this perspective because there are preset stances.

The point I want to stress is: today the siege is still held on Gaza. I tell all the Arab and Islamic peoples, all the active forces and the whole world who stood on the side of Gaza - and I was among those who called for showing solidarity with Gaza before the aggression was launched and for lifting the siege: the siege is still held on all cross points. Humanitarian and living conditions are even harder than what they were on before the war and the aggression. Consequently, some are trying to impose Israel's conditions on the resistance factions and especially on Hamas leadership while they failed to do that under bombardment, demolition and killing. Now they want to make use of the need of the resistance and the people of the resistance in Gaza for reconstruction. They want to make use of the hard living conditions which they are passing through to impose these conditions. Frankly speaking, linking reconstruction and aids for reconstruction for Gaza and its people to political terms – whether these terms have to do with the Palestinian-Palestinian reconciliation or with an appeasement with Israel or with a settlement – is but an immoral humiliating political blackmail which can't be accepted. It rather must be condemned. Here I address you all: we must all cooperate to offer help to the people of Gaza and to reconstruct Gaza so as to help its people overcome the suffering they are passing through unconditionally and without any preset political terms. This is the true humanistic stance and the true moral stance. If we are Arabs, this must be the Arab stance. If we are Muslims, this must be the Islamic stance. Any other speech is but blackmailing, a form of humiliation, a service offered to the enemy, a continuation of the goals of the aggression and an accomplice in the crime as I used to say during the days of the aggression. Consequently, the nation must not feel -even from a political, informative or public perspective that it has fulfilled its duty as the aggression on Gaza came to an end. The aggression and the war are still ongoing in other forms. Consequently, action must be taken on all perspectives –politically and publicly - to protect the leadership of the resistance in face of all the pressure they are facing; to push in the direction of opening all cross points and lifting the siege on the Palestinian people in Gaza and to help the Palestinians in Gaza to reconstruct their homes and all what was demolished without any present political conditions whether through offering aids to the government in Gaza, to the resistance factions or to the Palestinian people directly or through the presence of nations and institutions on the ground even if there are still those who are preventing access of aids and support to the people of Gaza. Such hurdles are still present until now. All what was said about opening a cross point here or there is sheer lying. The whole world knows that this is untrue and invalid.

I wrap up saying – and it's my duty to say that: we condemn all statements which were made especially by some shameless European officials. One of these officials visited Gaza and eye-witnessed the demolition in Gaza and the destroyed UNERWA schools in which children and women were killed. Then he made a statement in which he does not condemn Israel not even with one word – Israel which in broad daylight killed more than 1300 Palestinians half of them are women and children. He rather condemned Hamas accusing it of being a terrorist movement because it launched some rockets and killed or wounded a few Israeli settlers. He condemned Hamas because it is killing those he calls "Israeli civilians", but he does not dare to condemn Israel or accuse it of war crimes or of being a terrorist state – though he was not talking from Tel Aviv, but rather from Gaza. This gives us an idea – O brothers, sisters and dear audience – of the preset US-European decisive stance in supporting Israel and adopting Israel even when it commits the worst crimes which are documented and even are perpetrated before cameras and while the whole world is watching. We condemn such statements and consider that Hamas, Jihad and the resistance factions in Gaza and Palestine are noble resistance fighting national movements which spring from the recesses of the people's will and which represent the historic right of this people and that such classifications do not make any change in the will of the resistance whether in Lebanon or in Palestine.

Questions and answers

His Eminence was asked: You made an oath to avenge for the blood of martyr Imad Moghniyah. A year has passed on the oath. Has the oath become behind you or did any new evidences emerge from the Syrian investigation that has pushed you to take your time. Some say you have used your arms pointed internally more than towards the enemy. In the same perspective, Gaza waited for you to defend it but the people of the Strip didn't receive but mobilizing speeches at night. Even when the humble rockets were launched from the south, you made haste to inform the Information Minister that your party did not act recklessly. So has Hezbollah become an internal political party and the international and regional equations managed to quench its fire. Do you fear paying the bill?

His Eminence answered: You have the right to make such a conclusion. Will a new file for Lebanese prisoners be formed? This issue does not have to do with me? I said the issue is above all in the hands of the families of brethren Yahya Skaff and brethren Mohammad Farran. What do they want to consider them? Martyrs. Then the file of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli prisons is closed. If they considered them martyrs, they will be added to the list of martyrs. If they considered them missing, they will be added to the list of the missing. If they were considered prisoners, it'll be our responsibility all to carry on this cause. Anyway, as I said before it is the families and the religious and legal authorities who settle this issue whether to their death or livelihood. You know that in Lebanon, Muslims and Christians have definite procedures to consider so-and-so as dead. It's not a simple procedure. Now if they are considered alive that means they are prisoners in the hands of the Israelis. Then we have to carry their case. And I agree to whatever evaluation or stance the families take.

His Eminence carried on saying: As for the revenge, the day in which it will be behind us will never come. It's always before us. The Israelis are living in fear of the revenge since the very first day. You noticed all the measures taken all over the world. But we are not concerned in tackling this issue. And the term revenge needs a closer look. (In the Law of Equality there is life to you – the Holy Koran say). So retaliating the killing of martyr leader Imad Moghniyah to punish the killers and to safeguard the lives of others is necessary. Don't expect us to make any comment on the time, place, manner, the given, what happened, what didn't happen, what the Israelis claim would happen - like what was said yesterday and published today in some newspapers. On this issue, don't expect us to give any comment whether to deny or verify. The nature of this topic is different. His Eminence carried on saying: As for the investigation, I like to assert to you through the investigation and our information on the investigation that it reached a decisive result holding the Israelis and the Israeli Mosad responsible of the assassination of martyr leader Hajj Imad Moghniyah. However the details of the investigation are not revealed yet because the investigation has a continuation and revealing details and some evidences might hurdle the continuation. That's why the results and details are not officially announced by Syria yet. As for us – and we are not an official Syrian party – and according to my information and my following up of the file, I stress that the investigation proved our political and logical accusation that the Israeli Mosad has killed leader Hajj Imad Moghniyah.

On the question on Gaza, his Eminence pointed that some tried to evoke this issue during the war: The question is whether that was our duty. We used to show political, informative and public support. Perhaps there were other shapes for our cooperation. I am not obliged to make any more clarification. The question is on opening a Lebanese front. Were we supposed to do that? If it was our duty, where must such a decision have been taken? Where is the Lebanese will from such an issue? This is a group of issues which is closely related to our performance and conduct. Anyway, I am not in a position to defend myself. We are still a resistance ready to defend Lebanon and confront the enemy anytime we are supposed to do that. We never -not even for one moment -get outside the arena of the struggle. But I want to say something. Some in Lebanon and the Arab world- but especially in Lebanon - talk about one point and its opposite. They condemned launching the rockets and prohibited opening a front from Lebanon. In the very speech they said that the resistance in Lebanon did not support the people of Gaza by anything other than speeches and demonstrations. They baffled us. What do they want? The first or the second. His Eminence added: It's clear that their conduct is negative. They don't want to reach anywhere. Our evaluation is that what we did in Lebanon was in the limits of the possible duty –i.e. the duty which we could possibly do. As for the rockets his Eminence stressed: We didn't take the initiative to contact anyone. We didn't issue any statements concerning the rockets. The premier – the head of the government- called the Political Assistant asking: "Are you – Hajj - concerned by any means with the missile launching?" The Political Assistant said: "We are not concerned and we have no information." These words only. Indeed the Information Minister later said that Hezbollah informed us while we didn't take the initiative to do that. Even these details we did take it into consideration apart from whether we agree on the rocket launching or not. This debate did take place in the country. Our conduct in this issue was cautious so that nobody reads wrong between the lines. Even the expressions used by the Information Minister are of his own fabrication. All what we said is that we have no idea and we are not concerned. We are not border guards to go and investigate and know who was behind that.

His Eminence was asked: Two points were revealed after the aggression on Gaza. First, soldier Shalit was injured and consequently his fate has become unknown. Secondly, the Egyptian role was disclosed as being an accomplice with the occupation. Consequently, Egypt fell as a mediator for freeing this soldier. What's your advice to the brethrens in Hamas Movement? Do you advise them first to ask for freeing alive prisoners or martyrs in return of disclosing the fate of this soldier which has become unknown? Secondly, do you advise them to make haste in changing the Egyptian mediator and put forth a European of Turkish mediator for instance to carry on in this process which I believe thousands of families of Palestinian prisoners are waiting to carry it on and for high prices now after the super-abundant bloodshed in Gaza?

His Eminence answered: As for Gilead Shalit, I have no information. I don't know anything. The negotiation tactics are there for Hamas leadership. The difference between our case and theirs is that Gilead Shalit is alive for certain. It was said that he was injured and consequently the Israelis are negotiating for an alive prisoner. In our case, from the very first moment, the fate of the soldiers was unknown: are they alive or dead. So it was possible that we negotiate for information. Secondly, negotiations are a bit complicated in their case. The Palestinians expect to swap the soldier in return for a great number of prisoners. In our case, the number of Lebanese prisoners was limited. We sought to free more from the non-Lebanese prisoners. But they really have a true problem because of the great number of Palestinian prisoners. They decide the tactic on whether they would authorize another mediator. I am not acquainted with the conditions of the negotiations. But I like to stress one point. As far as I know, if Hamas wanted to look for another mediator, the Israelis will not accept but the Egyptian mediator to undergo the swap operation.

His Eminence was asked: On the light of the war on Gaza, do you believe Israel is able to launch an aggression against Lebanon in the near future? Secondly, do you believe the speech you addressed the Egyptian public with was in its place especially that some of Hezbollah's friends said it was better if you limited your call on opening Rafah Cross point? The last point in my question has to do with the speech of King Abdullah in Kuwait Summit. What's your evaluation of this speech and why didn't the resolutions of Kuwait Summit come under this ceiling but rather far below the Saudi Speech?

His Eminence answered: As for a potential war, well we are facing an enemy with such an aggressive treacherous blood-thirsty nature. This is not Arabic verse composition. These are facts and events taking place for sixty years by now. We in the Arab world are suffering from that. So no one can say Lebanon is secure. But do the recent events make a difference? I can neither deny nor confirm. I can only say that with an enemy with such an aggressive nature, this possibility is valid at any time. His Eminence carried on saying: Some say what's important is that we don't give Israel a pretext. But Israel is able to fabricate the pretexts it wants. In 1982 invasion, it did so. Who did give it the pretext? There was a ceasefire then in Southern Lebanon. Under the pretext of an attempt by an unknown to assassinate the Israeli ambassador – who remained alive until two or three years ago – they invaded Lebanon and occupied Beirut. So this assumption is valid as a natural consequence of the nature of this enemy. But there are difficulties facing this possibility because after July War and after Gaza War, any war will not be a picnic. It would be very costly and hard for the Israelis. This is the equation. He added: It's important that we act accordingly. Well I don't want to provoke a debate on the defense strategy. But some had their comments. Well can anyone go into a war without civil martyrs falling? Let anyone point out one war since Allah created Adam onward in which people were not killed. Well this is a war. When you say war - especially if your enemy owns fatal weapons- your enemy will kill civilians. The Israelis killed civilians intentionally whether in The Grapes of Wrath, July War or Gaza War. The killing was intentional and not by mistake. Its aim was to harm the will of the leadership of the resistance and the resistance fighters and provoke the people against the resistance. So the civil are liable. After all this is a war in which soldiers and civilians are martyred. The equation changes when you meet your enemy with a deterrence counterbalance. The Israelis said they reached a deterrence balance. Who denies that the Israelis own a great power to destroy? We don’t deny that. Neither do the Palestinians. What's new is not in this point. It's that on the other side you created a counterbalance. Against us, any war would be costly for you, your entity, your people, your army, your capabilities and your power. This counterbalance may form a deterrent or may decrease the possibility of an aggression. Yet the assumption of an aggression is always valid.

As for Egypt, well I respect all viewpoints. You know that I don't insist stubbornly. After July War and the great victory, I said that phrase in an interview. Well, some people do not remember anything from July War but that phrase. Well I don't insist stubbornly on my viewpoints. That's why I tell you that with all my respect to all political leaderships and senior journalists who wrote and considered my position on the Egyptian stance wrong. I stress my position was very right. Here I say again. I condemn the Egyptian regime because it is still closing Rafah Cross point before everything. I condemn this regime because it lies on the Arab and Islamic worlds saying it opened Rafah Cross point and this is not true. This cross point must open because the Palestinians need medicine.

His Eminence pointed out: Nowadays, there is on the Lebanese shore an Iranian ship with 20 tons of food stuff and medicine on board. Why did the Egyptians refuse to receive the ship and unload it on their land besides letting them pass through Rafah Cross point? During the war and after the war, the Egyptian regime is an accomplice in the siege on Gaza strip. It's true Egypt is a compulsory mediator. There is no way against accepting this mediator. But is it a fair mediator? I doubt. I feel and I know that it is trying to pressure the Palestinians and impose the others' conditions on the Palestinians. Consequently, I wasn't making compliments. I really wonder how some were asking us to open a front but don't agree that we criticize Egypt that harsh. I criticize Egypt and still do that. Whoever believes this as wrong is free in his political performance and tactics. I believe that Rafah Cross point is crucial to Gaza Strip. It's crucial for the resistance, for the people, for their lives, blood and bread. Consequently, closing this cross point is one of the greatest crimes committed and is still committed in history.

As for Kuwait Summit, we are with any Arab reconciliation- Saudi Arabia-Syria and Egypt-Saudi Arabia. We unconditionally back any Arab reconciliation, any Islamic reconciliation, any approach, any unity, any cooperation, and any coordination. We see in that a great interest for our peoples and our region. This is one of the factors of victory and steadfastness. (And fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart, the Koran says.) We approve this reconciliation which we don't view from an internal perspective. I know when on that evening King Abdullah and President Bashar shook hands and kissed each other, some were annoyed in Lebanon and felt unhappy. As for this issue, we see that any approach, cooperation or reconciliation between Arab governments has great interest definitely. We back any positive supportive talks under whatever ceiling it come. But unfortunately, we didn't find any trace of the speeches made when it came to the Foreign Ministry statement. Thus the statement was below the ceiling of Doha Summit speeches and below the ceiling of Kuwait Summit speeches. This is regrettable and disgraceful. Anyway, we must be positive towards Arab-Arab relations and act according to them and try to help in develop them.

Q: You said you are serious in reaching a common viewpoint with the other Lebanese parties on a defense strategy. On the other side, some say that the dialogue sessions have become means to pass time. So consequently you settled the issue of defense strategy through the call to adopt Hezbollah's strategy – i.e. the resistance. What's your comment on that?

A: If we had settled the issue and don't considered it as a matter for dialogue what's the use of going to dialogue sessions then? What I said on the tenth day of Muharram is that the experience of July War and Gaza War must have settled this point. I mean if we are to act according to these events and their real evaluations, the viewpoint on a defense strategy must be decisive. But we won't withdraw this issue from the dialogue table. That's why we are still sharing. I believe this debate will carry on. Still, the least the dialogue table is giving as a service to this country is the meeting of leaderships and the appeasement atmosphere in the country. And this is good as a result and not as a goal for the dialogue table. These are among its results. By the way, I stress on the appeasement atmosphere as elections approach. I also warn against resorting to sectarian speeches because it's not less serious than electoral money. In fact, it's worse and more dangerous, more repulsive and more influential than political money. As for dialogue, we are still open to all viewpoints. We discuss them seriously even if we still assert our viewpoint and see that it's important that the dialogue table be expanded to include other political parties in the country because we are tackling a crucial issue.

Q: Are you ready to convey your viewpoint (to the new US president Barak Obama) even if in an indirect way through Turkey apart from an aggressive language towards the United States? The second question: Some say that should a comprehensive settlement be reached in the region with Iran, Syria and Qatar, these countries might discard with the resistance. What might Hezbollah's viewpoint be then and what's your reaction to such a settlement should it take place?

A: Much is being said. Some try to see something positive in that. Some approach it cautiously. But the conduct of the new US administration towards Israel is adoptive and absolutely supportive. So far I didn't sense any change between the approaches of the two administrations towards the Israeli issue. As for approaching other issues, there might be some change in words but not in action so far. As for conveying our viewpoint in an indirect way, we are doing that already. We don't need Turkey. During July War, Lebanese officials used to meet Lebanese officials and delegations. Indeed we didn't meet them ourselves. We have certain reservations. But we don't need indirect dialogue whether through Turkey or any other country. Perhaps our brethrens in Hamas are obliged to do so but we are not. We can – via Lebanese officials and leaderships – convey all our viewpoints. Still we say our viewpoints overtly through the media. We have nothing to hide. Thus we might not even resort to channels but should we need so, we prefer Lebanese channels. Let's stick to the slogan: Made in Lebanon.

As for fearing abandonment, first the resistance -whether in Lebanon or in Palestine – is defending a righteous cause. We are grateful for all who support us. Whoever abandons supporting us might be incapable of doing so or delinquent. This is his concern. Still that won't affect the will of the resistance or the right of the resistance. I believe I'll be making haste if I made any evaluation now supposing that things went that way and the opposition nations which back the resistance did abandon it. It's too early to tackle such an issue. I believe it will not happen. But at least let's say it's still too early to tackle such an issue.

Q: Today you made a call to the Lebanese government and to the Lebanese Forces to deal positively with the file of prisoners and missing and a call on the Lebanese government to do so also regarding the bodies of martyrs and prisoners. Does that mean that in case the government failed to respond to your call we'll witness a July, 2006 War II again? My second question is: Yesterday the Egyptian Foreign Minister criticized Hezbollah accusing it of trying to flare a war in the Middle East along with Hamas and Iran. Your Eminence, until when will criticism from your side to Egypt and from Egypt to the Resistance in Lebanon carry on especially after the make-believe reconciliation that took place in Kuwait summit?

A: As for the first question, re-opening the file of prisoners, martyrs' bodies and revealing the fate of the missing doesn't mean going to war at all. I said this before and I'll stress it again: all investigations – even Vingrad and all what was written and reported - assert that July War has nothing to do with kidnapping the two Israeli soldiers. It was a war set on a definite time. It was supposed to take place in September or early October. It was a divine mercy or a good luck that the resistance made the kidnap operation on July 12, 2006 what led the war erupt before its due timing in September 2006 or early October 2006 which was to resort to trickery and taking by surprise exactly as what took place in the first day in Gaza. That war was to be more comprehensive and complicated internally and externally. But it was a good luck that the kidnapping operation happened. So it was taken as a pretext to wage the war which was set to build a new Middle East and to liquidate whatever resistance and deterrence factors left in the region in face of the new Middle East. That's why all noticed that during July War, everything was tackled (in the enemy's speech) but the two prisoners. Even in negotiations with us, they talked about the two prisoners in the first days of the war. Then they stopped mentioning them. All the talks then fixed on the war and its repercussions. So being interested in this file does not mean exposing Lebanon to a new war.

As for the other question, it's natural that we go into contest with the Egyptian officials nowadays because there is a serious struggle in the region. There is the camp of the resistance which is adherent to Arab rights, and there's another camp which wants to put an end to this cause by whatever means. So it's natural that a contest takes place between these two sides. By the way, weren't those who were collaborating against the Palestinians collaborating against us during July War? Indeed they were. But because it was we who were in July War bombarded, killed and fighting, we didn't want to contest with anyone inside or outside. Those who did harm us inside and outside were many: accusations of treason, collaboration to Iran and Syria and disbelief. They gave information. They instigated… Yet we took a decision in July War not to talk at all exactly as the Palestinian resistance did. Some might ask why we are attacked while they aren't. They must act as we did in July War. We did not attack anyone. Their conditions are like ours in July War. Today we need a clear and strong political stand. This was imposed by the previous battle. Indeed there is a side which insists on the necessity that the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine give in. What does that mean when someone offers on the Palestinians (after the war ended up) a permanent truce or a truce for ten or fifteen year with a commitment not to smuggle weapons to Gaza, make a reconciliation pursuant to such conditions and go for a settlement with the Israelis? That means: submit. If the Palestinians are not able to cry out, I will cry for them. Consequently, I believe this contest is a natural outcome of the ongoing struggle. It's not the struggle of international or regional axes. It's a struggle for a cause. Some want to defend this cause and some want to liquidate it. That's frankly speaking.

Q: How do you view the latest statement made by Depute Saed Harari? Is it a form or electoral mobilization or a blow to the reconciliation that took place between both of you especially that he touched on Iran and reminded of May 7th? What's your viewpoint on persisting on confiscating the money paid for compensating for July War for the people of the South?

A: As for the statement, we will not make an answer to it through the media. I sent blame through common friends to Sheikh Saed telling him: This is not we agreed on. Anyway, I call for preserving the appeasement atmosphere. This is for the interest of all parties. No one can begrudge that on the other; neither March 8 on March 14 nor vice versa. All can speak out and deliver speeches. Some can make better speeches but all can gather masses and write articles. An appeasement is not a gift. It's a national interest for which I call.

On the dialogue table they told us we attacked the Egyptian regime! Is this a part of the internal appeasement? Notice that after the appeasement we agreed on they daily attack Syria and Iran and the Syrian-Iranian axis. In this context, I only call for preserving appeasement because it's a national interest. Even on elections, we can all make logical, objective and scientific speeches and present viewpoints, programs and choices without resorting to accusing the other party or arousing sectarian incitements.

As for the last point, we totally back the stance of President Nabih Berri. The South Council still has a duty to fulfill. There are pre-July War-issues which were agreed that the South Council handle and wrap up. This is not achieved so far. Then came July War and added to the South Council responsibilities the issue of compensations and other issues. So consequently, if one of the governmental institutions is entitled to definite responsibilities to achieve, it must be financed. Now if the discussion is basically around the South Council, we are open for discussion. There is no objection that the current government – which is a national unity government in which all parties are represented – discuss the issue of the South Council, the Displaced Fund, the High Relief Society, the Development and Reconstruction Council. We can discuss these councils were established on the margin of ministries. We are open to that and we call for administrative and financial reform. We have our viewpoint on that. We call for canceling all these funds and restoring the responsibilities to the concerned ministries and for forming a Ministry of Planning which duty is to plot and supervise. We are totally open to the reform process. But at the meantime we are suffering from compensation crisis and reconstruction crisis among other files which are not wrapped up yet in the south. So how come we cancel the south Council and reduce its balance to zero? This is unacceptable at all. I want to say even more. At times one feels that there is something spiritual, cultural and informative against anything that has to do with the South. As for the resistance, they canceled the "Day of the Resistance and Liberation" while new holidays are invented. Then the South Council is to be canceled disregarding the files it must wrap up and not in a move towards a total reform process. We are not sticking to it and saying no we want the South Council by whatever means. We are saying we are ready for a reform process. Even more, concerning the freed prisoners, you find that they are suffering. You go to the families of martyrs, you find them suffering too. By God, when it comes to all what have to do with the south, the resistance and its history and this file, you feel this kind of negligence, nonobservance and disregard. If one day this file got drowned not in the sea of Gaza but in the sea of Lebanon, some won't feel sorry. I don't want to make accusations. I want to say that this feeling mustn't be nurtured by the people of the South but I believe some have already nurtured this feeling.

I call for enabling the South Council within the legal framework to fulfill the rest of its obligations and wrap the files referred to it above all the compensations for July War. As for discussing the South Council in the framework of a comprehensive reform step, we back from now canceling all funds and councils which were established on the margins of ministries and forming a Ministry of Planning.