((JEWISH REVIEW)) — Hassan Nasrallah blamed Israel for the assassination of a senior Hamas leader who was under Hezbollah protection in Beirut and said the Lebanese terror group would retaliate.
“This serious crime will not remain without response and punishment,” the Hezbollah leader said Wednesday in a televised address a day after Saleh Al-Arouri, Hamas’ deputy leader, was assassinated.
Israel has not officially claimed responsibility for the blast, which also took down six others, including two other Hamas leaders. But it is widely believed to have carried out the strike, and a backbench lawmaker belonging to the governing Likud Party, Danny Danon, said Israel was responsible.
On Wednesday afternoon, a senior U.S. official told reporters in a background briefing that Al-Arouri was a legitimate target. “The very senior members of Hamas must be held accountable, and he was held accountable,” the official said.
Al-Arouri was an architect of the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion of Israel, which launched the current war. Nasrallah praised Hamas for the massacre.
Nasrallah described the limited warfare since Oct. 8 that Hezbollah has waged against Israel as necessary to keep Israel from launching a broader action against Lebanon.
He warned Israel that expanding the war beyond Lebanon’s border with Israel would lead to a broader war that would reach beyond Israel’s north, which Hezbollah has bombarded with rockets. More than 100 people have been killed in the clashes between Israel and Hezbollah since Oct. 7, most of them Hezbollah fighters.
“If the enemy launches a war on Lebanon, our fighting will be without ceilings, boundaries, rules and controls and they know what I’m talking about,” Nasrallah said. “If Israel wages a full-scale war on us, we will deliver a crushing and unrestricted response.”
Nasrallah did not say what he meant by “unrestricted.” Earlier in his speech, he said that the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, which he referred to in by its Hebrew name, Gush Dan, was a legitimate target. Hezbollah has in the past launched or planned terrorist attacks at Jewish targets overseas, including in Argentina, Thailand, Bulgaria and Cyprus.