Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 01:49 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 01:49 | SYDNEY

Hizballah battlefield


Sam Roggeveen


18 February 2008 14:25

Interesting note on Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's speech following the death of his terrorist honcho, Imad Mugniyah. Nasrallah, who obviously thinks Israel was responsible for Mugniyah's demise, is quoted in the London Times as saying:

 'You have killed Hajj Imad outside the natural battlefield,' Nasrallah said, referring to the borders of Lebanon. 'With this murder, its timing, location and method – Zionists, if you want this kind of open war, let the whole world listen: Let this war be open.'

Most media attention focused on the second part of that statement ('open war'), but the first part is also worth examining. What on earth could Nasrallah mean by a 'natural battlefield'?

As I pointed out last week, Hizballah has not conducted a terrorist attack outside its immediate neighbourhood since 1994. Since then it has tried to consolidate itself as a political power and welfare provider for Lebanese Shia, and as a paramilitary force. As this Haaretz op-ed argues, those goals don't sit well with a reputation for international terrorism, which probably explains the long pause.

But I'm not aware that Hizballah ever formally renounced the option of attacking Israel outside its region. Yet Nasrallah's language makes it sound almost as if that was the case, and even that Israel had reneged on some implicit agreement to geographically contain the conflict.