Recently three senior Hizballah leaders have made pronouncements concerning the future of terrorist operations in the case of a unilateral IDF withdrawal from southern Lebanon. The three were: the head of the organization, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah; the head of the “Political Council,” Mohammed Ra’ed; and parliament member Mohammed Fnesh. According to these pronouncements, even the withdrawal of the Israeli Army from southern Lebanon will not bring about a cessation of terrorist activity against “northern Palestine,” and that “the occupier must be pursued even after withdrawal.” The Hizballah’s scenario anticipates the perpetration of terrorism from southern Lebanese territory by Palestinian groups, apparently with Hizballah assistance, until the achievement of the goal of “the liberation of all of Palestine.” At the same time the Hizballah leaders repeated their call for the continuation of Palestinian terrorism against Israeli soldiers and civilians until the obliteration of Israel.
Following are some quotations: * Mohammed Ra’ed, head of the “Political Council” of Hizballah, and member of the Lebanese parliament, at a banquet to honor the end of fast of Ramadan (as quoted by Radio Nur on December 24, 1998): “There are numerous ways in which we can pursue the enemies, even after they withdraw from our occupied land . . . we will force the enemy to give an accounting for the crimes committed in the course of the invasion of Lebanon.” * Mohammed Fnesh, parliament member on behalf of the Hizballah, at a memorial service in Shahabieh for one of the fighters: “The enemy has only one option, and that is to withdraw from our land without conditions or reservations . . . we will not agree for anyone to reward the occupier for his aggression. What is needed is to pursue him even after his withdrawal in order to exact payment for the loss of life and property caused us by his occupation.” (Radio Nur, December 27, 1998) * From an interview on “Orbit” television with Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallahh (December 15, 1998): “. . .Palestine is Palestinian, Arab and Muslim land; Palestine stretches from the Sea to the River. That is Palestine of 1948. Rights do not change with the passage of time. Even with the passage of 100 or 200 or 300 years . . .” In answer to the question whether Syria and Lebanon might act to stop Hizballah’s activities after an IDF withdrawal from the Security Zone: “It isn’t possible. No factor in Lebanon—not the opposition, no Hizballah, not the Lebanese army, not the Lebanese government, and not Syria—none of them will agree to come to the South in order to guard the border of the Israeli entity . . .Let’s assume that a certain group—not from Hizballah; we’re not saying what Hizballah will do in future; we’ve have postponed that decision for later on. Assume that a Palestinian group crosses the border into northern Palestine in order to carry out an operation there. They [the Palestinians] will say, ‘We are Palestinians and this is our land. We are fighting to liberate our land and this is a resistance action and not terrorism. If Lebanon were to give guarantees to the government of the Israeli enemy then the Lebanese government would be responsible and would be blamed . . .is there any one in Lebanon that would agree to this?” In answer to the question of whether the Israelis would agree to withdraw without guarantees that they would not be attacked: “. . .We must expect the Israelis to realize that they are occupiers, and that in Palestine too they are occupiers. In the very nature of things they must be anxious and worried. It isn’t natural that I would give them guarantees.” Later in the interview, he says, “ . . It isn’t my problem whether the Israelis will or will not live in peace in northern Palestine.” In answer to a question as to why the same Palestinian groups did not attack Israel from the Syrian border, from the South or from Jordan, but rather from the Lebanese border: “If others make mistakes, must I also make the same mistakes?” * Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, at the conference of Palestinian opposition groups held in Damascus on December 12, 1998, as quoted by Radio al-Quds: “ . . .the Palestinian National Covenant remains valid as long as there is a knife in the hands of a Palestinian woman with which to stab a soldier or a settler. The Palestinian National Covenant remains valid as long as there are suicide bombers (who sacrifice themselves in the Holy name of Allah) to carry out attacks in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv. The Palestinian National Covenant remains valid as long as there is a Palestinian child who hurls a stone at an Israeli soldier, and whose eyes are fixed on Palestine, from the River to the Sea.” What is exceptional in these declarations is the fact that, until recently, Hizballah tended to preserve certain vagueness with regard to the continuation of terrorist activity from South Lebanon after an Israeli withdrawal. The current pronouncements are in direct contradiction to assumptions that an IDF withdrawal will lead to a cessation of terrorism from Lebanon, and to Hizballah’s conversion from terrorist movement to political party.