Hezbollah says ready for any Israeli attack

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday he had asked his fighters to be on alert for any possible Israeli attack on Lebanon following raids on Gaza that killed nearly 300 Palestinians.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

Nasrallah told a religious gathering in Beirut’s southern suburbs that the Israeli assault on Gaza was a carbon copy of its attacks on Lebanon during a 34-day war with Hezbollah in 2006. Some 1,200 people died in Lebanon and 158 in Israel in that conflict.

“I have asked the brothers in the resistance in the south specifically to be present, on alert and cautious because we are facing a criminal enemy and we don’t know the magnitude of the conspiracies,” Nasrallah said.

They were his first comments on the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip that killed at least 296 Palestinians.

The black-turbaned cleric, speaking via a video link because of security fears, said the Israeli forces had gone on alert along the border with Lebanon since Saturday when the attack on Gaza began.

Nasrallah said the Israelis were either taking precautionary measures or preparing for an attack in an attempt to avenge its failure to destroy Hezbollah in 2006.

Minutes after he finished speaking, Israeli warplanes flew low over large areas of south Lebanon, witnesses said.

The Hezbollah leader attacked Egypt over its role in Gaza and warned its government to open its border with the strip for food and medical supplies, and even weapons, or face the wrath of the Egyptian people.

“There is a real and complete partnership by some Arab regimes in this project, especially those who signed peace deals with Israel,” Nasrallah said.

“The Egyptian position is the cornerstone of what is going on in Gaza... Egyptian officials: if you don’t open the Rafah crossing then you are partners in the crime, partners in the murder,” Nasrallah said.

He urged Egyptians to take to the streets to force Cairo to open the border with Gaza and called on peoples of Arab and Muslim countries to stage large protests in support of Gaza and to pressure their governments to act to stop the Israeli attack.

“People of Egypt you should open Rafah crossing,” Nasrallah, whose group is backed by Syria and Iran, said. He declared Monday a day of mourning and called for a large protest in support of Gaza in Beirut.

Reporting by Nadim Ladki; Editing by Sami Aboudi