Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has once again proven himself a much more wily and adept propagandist for his side than the Israeli government is for itself. According to the NY Times, he made an offer today to cease Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on Israel in return for a cessation of the Israeli assault on Lebanon. He also warned that if Israel resumes its attack on Beirut, he will hit Tel Aviv:
…The leader of Hezbollah, delivered a speech broadcast today in which he praised his “heroic” fighters but said that if Israel halted its bombardments in Lebanon, the group would halt its rocket attacks on Israeli cities.
The message from the sheikh appeared to be aimed at convincing Israel and the outside world that Hezbollah fighters were still a force 23 days into the battle…It also seemed to be intended to show that Hezbollah’s command structure remained intact, by referring to recent events like the 48 hours earlier this week during which Israel said it had halted its air bombardment in Lebanon.
“The Islamic resistance will hit Tel Aviv, and it is capable of doing that with God’s help,” Sheik Nasrallah said in the speech, broadcast on the group’s television network, al Manar.
“The rocketing of the settlements is a reaction, it is not an action,” said Mr. Nasrallah, according to a translation of the speech, also broadcast on CNN. “You attacked our cities and villages, and at any time you decide to stop your aggression, we will not hit any settlement or any Israeli city.’’
It indicates Nasrallah’s greater sensitivity to the concept of proportionality than Israel has shown. It also indicates greater flexibility (at least if his rhetoric can be believed) in his military-political position than Israel has shown.
Israel responded with this ominous and chilling warning:
In response, a senior Israeli military adviser told the state-owned Channel One station in Israel that if Tel Aviv was attacked, the “Lebanese national infrastructure would be destroyed,’’ Reuters reported.
If I were Condi I’d be on the phone right now to head this thing off. She’s got to do something to stop both parties from leaping into the abyss which they appear perfectly ready to do. At the very least, she must tell Israel that if Tel Aviv is attacked beginning World War III is not in the cards for Israel. I can fairly easily see such an overwrought Israeli reaction finally bringing Syria and Iran into this war in a much more open way. And this cannot be good for any of the parties.