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BEIRUT: Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel yesterday that thousands of rockets would rain down on Tel Aviv and cities across the Jewish state if it attacked Lebanon.
Speaking four days after the ceasefire which ended a week of conflict between Israel and the Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza, Nasrallah said Hezbollah’s response to any attack would dwarf the rocket fire launched from Palestinian territories.
“Israel, which was shaken by a handful of Fajr-5 rockets during eight days — how would it cope with thousands of rockets which would fall on Tel Aviv and other (cities) ... if it attacked Lebanon?” Nasrallah said.
The Fajr-5s, with a range of 75km — able to strike Tel Aviv or Jerusalem — and 175kg warheads, are the most powerful and long-range rockets to have been fired from Gaza.
But Hezbollah, which fought Israel to a standstill in a 34-day war six years ago, says it has been re-arming since then and has a far deadlier arsenal than Hamas. Nasrallah has said Hezbollah could kill tens of thousands of people and strike anywhere inside Israel if hostilities break out again.
“If the confrontation with the Gaza Strip ... had a range of 40 to 70 km, the battle with us will range over the whole of occupied Palestine - from the Lebanese border to the Jordanian border, to the Red Sea,” Nasrallah said.
Hezbollah could hit targets “from Kiryat Shmona - and let the Israelis listen carefully - from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat”, he said, referring to Israeli’s northernmost town on the Lebanese border to the Red Sea port 290 miles further south.
The movement has warned that any Israeli attack against the nuclear facilities of its patron Iran, which has armed and funded the Lebanese Shia Muslim militant group, would inflame the Middle East — though it has not specified its own response.
In a move it said showed it could penetrate deep inside Israeli defences, it flew a drone over Israel last month. The drone was shot down after flying 25 miles into southern Israel. Israel says its Iron Dome missile defence system knocked out 90 percent of the rockets fired from Gaza which were on course to hit populated areas.
Nasrallah was speaking by video-link to tens of thousands of Shi’ite faithful in southern Beirut commemorating Ashura.