Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah made a rare television appearance yesterday, threatening to strike an ammonia plant in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, in what he described as the terror group’s “nuclear bomb.”
Addressing the annual Hezbollah Martyrs Leader Day, Nasrallah said that “Israel knows Hezbollah has missiles and rockets that can strike anywhere in its territory.” In particular, he said that a strike on the ammonia plant would cause up to 800,000 casualties, adding, “This would be exactly as a nuclear bomb, and we can say that Lebanon today has a nuclear bomb, seeing as any rocket that might hit these tanks is capable of creating a nuclear bomb effect.” Israel Radio news reports that Israel’s Environment Minister Avi Gabbay said efforts are being made to relocate the plant.
Hezbollah controls much of southern Lebanon and although Israel’s border with Lebanon has been largely quiet since the month-long 2006 Second Lebanon War, Israeli officials have estimated that Hezbollah has approximately 100,000 rockets at its disposal, ten times the arsenal which Hamas controlled before Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Hezbollah is heavily backed by Iran and continues to play a crucial role fighting alongside President Assad’s forces in Syria, helping prop up his regime. During yesterday’s address, Nasrallah alleged that “The Saudis, Turks and Israelis are paralysing the [Syria] negotiations.”
Nasrallah also took particular umbrage at Israel’s growing relations with Sunni Arab states, saying that Israel is “establishing relations and alliances … through taking advantage of the confrontation with Iran.” He rhetorically asked Sunni Arab countries, “You are free to consider Iran an enemy but how can you consider Israel a friend and an ally? This issue must be confronted in a serious manner.”
Earlier this week, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a conference of US Jewish leaders in Jerusalem that “Most of the Sunni Arab states view Israel as an ally, not an enemy” and that discreet communications take place between them.