GAZA/JERUSALEM – The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah warned the United States on Friday that if Israel did not stop its assault on Gaza then fighting on the Lebanese front could turn into a wider war.
A strong military force backed by Iran, Hezbollah has been engaging Israeli forces along the Lebanon-Israel border in the deadliest escalation since it fought a war with Israel in 2006.
“We are ready for all possibilities,” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech, speaking for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war erupted.
He blamed the United States for the war in Gaza and the high civilian death toll and said a de-escalation in the besieged enclave was vital to prevent regional war.
“You, the Americans, can stop the aggression against Gaza because it is your aggression. Whoever wants to prevent a regional war, and I am talking to the Americans, must quickly halt the aggression on Gaza,” Nasrallah said.
He added Hezbollah did not fear the U.S. naval firepower Washington has assembled in the region since the crisis erupted.
Nasrallah said that further escalation along the Lebanese border between Israel and his group – a Hamas ally – was contingent on what happened in the Gaza Strip, under assault by Israeli forces since a deadly Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
Nasrallah’s remarks coincided with a visit to Israel by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said the U.S. had been clear that it is determined there should not be a second or third front in the conflict.
Blinken was speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv following meetings with Israeli leaders, adding that Washington is committed to deterring aggression from any party.
He also appealed to Israel to take steps to protect civilians in Gaza as its forces kept up their bombardment of the Palestinian enclave and the death toll among residents soared.
The Israeli military said its troops were fighting Hamas militants in close-quarter combat in the ruined streets after encircling Gaza City in their bid to wipe out the Islamist group that controls the small, densely populated territory.