BEIRUT – Syria will supply game-changing weapons to Hezbollah, the chief of the Lebanese militant group said Thursday, less than a week after Israeli airstrikes on Damascus targeted alleged shipments of advanced Iranian missiles bound for Hezbollah.
Israel has signaled it will respond with airstrikes to any future weapons shipments, meaning it could quickly get drawn into Syria’s civil war if Sheik Hassan Nasrallah’s declaration is more than an empty threat.
Tension has been rising in the region since Israel struck targets inside Syria last Friday and Sunday. Hezbollah and Israel fought several battles in the past three decades, including a 34-day war in 2006 that left about 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis dead.
Israel never acknowledged the airstrikes, but Israeli officials have signaled that Israel’s air force would strike against any shipments of strategic missiles that might be bound for Hezbollah.
Nasrallah said the anticipated weapons shipments were Syria’s response to the Israeli airstrikes.
This is the Syrian strategic reaction, Nasrallah said. This is more important than firing a rocket or carrying out an airstrike against Israel.
Meanwhile, a prominent Islamic scholar making a landmark visit to the Gaza Strip declared Israel has no right to exist and voiced his support for rocket fire on Israel, giving a boost of legitimacy to the militant Islamist Hamas rulers of the Palestinian territory.
This land has never once been a Jewish land. Palestine is for the Arab Islamic nation, said Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Qatar-based cleric made famous by his popular TV show and widely respected in the Muslim world.