The Secretary General of Hizbullah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, spoke on the fifth anniversary of the 'Freedom Day'-the day when the most significant and largest prisoner swap in the history of the conflict against the Zionist enemy took place, freeing Lebanese and Arab detainees out of "Israeli" jails.
The following is the full text of the speech given by his eminence:
During such days in 2004, the Islamic resistance in Lebanon accomplished the most important prisoner exchange, I believe, with the release of a cherished group of prisoners including his eminence Sheikh Abdel Karim Obeid, Hajj Abu Ali Dirani and other beloved Mujahideen brothers, as well as a large number of martyrs bodies.
We declared that day "Freedom Day" and promised those of the brothers who remained in "Israeli" jails, including brother Samir Kintar, to work hard for their liberation.
God granted us success and this was accomplished through Al-Redwan Operation, a large part of its results were declared, the remaining aspects I will talk about today God willing.
To start with, I think this cherished anniversary of the liberation of a blessed group of resistance fighters, mujahidin and martyrs, is an occasion to remember and express solidarity with those still in "Israeli" jails, our detained Palestinian, Syrian, Jordanian and Arab brothers, especially prisoners of al-Quds (Jerusalem) and from the occupied Palestinian territories of 1948, who are facing difficult circumstances.
The total number of prisoners exceeding 11 thousand include large numbers of children and women, ill prisoners, some with health conditions, a cause that must remain in the conscience of this nation whether governments, leaders, parties, forces and peoples, to on the one hand see this issue as a nationalistic, patriotic, jihad issue and as a humanitarian and moral cause of a high humanitarian nature on the other, because in this issue, we witness another form of struggle the prisoners and detainees are putting in their steadfastness, firmness, defiance, hardship, suffering and the difficult conditions they endure in the prisons of the occupation, as well as their families outside.
This day is an opportunity to bring back into the light the issue of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in "Israeli" prisons, almost fading into forgetfulness by passing stages.
Returning to the details of the Operation al-Redwan, notably the fate of Palestinian martyr Dalal Moghrabi and missing Lebanese Yahya Skaff.... In 2004 prisoner swap, we insisted that the exchange include prisoner Yahya Skaff, whom the "Israelis" claimed was martyred along with the ‘Dalal Moghrabi' group, so we insisted that his body be released if he was a martyr, as claimed by the "Israelis".
There were some complications at that stage and it was not completed.
In Operation al-Redwan we insisted on the release of the martyrs' bodies from the martyr Dalal Mughrabi group, including Dalal, the brothers who were martyred with her and brother Yahya Skaff's body, presuming he was a martyr as the "Israelis" allege.
Indeed, in Operation Al-Redwan information and files along these remains were received. These remains were said to be 'those of the four martyrs,' that 'they were clearly old remains,' and that 'they belong to four martyrs: Dalal, Yahya, and two other martyrs', except that the "Israelis" could not distinguish which remains belonged to whom, Dalal, Yehia or the remaining martyrs, claiming that 'burying their bodies took place with some degree of chaos at the time, and so they could not be accurately numbered.'
These remains are a part of a large number of martyrs' remains, received in Operation Al-Redwa, we were able to identify clearly.
Through existing evidence, information and indications, we did not need DNA tests for all the other remains... and only occasionally did we have to resort to DNA tests.
Regarding these remains and because tests in Lebanese Laboratories could not provide conclusive results, and to confirm conclusiveness of the results, we had to send the specimens of the four martyrs' remains to the most respected Labs in France... which is the reason for delay until now.
The reason the tests took all this time was due to the fact that the remains were old, which, based on experience from previous exchange operations, was a normal length of time when tests carried out on bones rather than remains took between 3 and 4 months.
The span of time taken by these tests is normal.
Accordingly, a few days ago we received the results of the DNA tests which were not conclusive, in other words we cannot conclude from the DNA tests that any of the four remains belongs to sister Dalal, brother Yahya or the other martyrs. Consequently, we informed the concerned families.
As for sister Dalal, her martyrdom is confirmed through a number of tangible details, photos and witnesses, it is also a known fact by Dalal's family and public opinion that Dalal was martyred during the operation she led.
Hence as far as Dalal is concerned, the question is not whether Dalal was a martyr or is still alive, but whether any of these remains were hers or not.
We cannot conclude that any of these remains belong to martyr Dalal; therefore, the matter now goes back to the family of martyr Dalal al-Moghrabi.
Concerning bother Yahya Skaff, we also share the same results with his respected family, who have shown tremendous patience and cooperation throughout the long years of waiting.
Therefore from our point of view right now, we cannot conclude this matter. I can however conclude and say that the remains of brother Yehya Skaff are not among the four remains in our possession, and since his martyrdom remains a hypothesis, the probabilities regarding his fate remain open. Is he alive in "Israeli" custody? Is "Israel" denying his existence? Is he missing, hence, is his fate unknown? Is he alive? Is he a martyr? Or is he a martyr whose body is missing or whose body "Israel" retains?
These are all possible probabilities.
It is up to the Skaff family to pursue and conclude the matter, based on their convictions and on the evidence presented to them, as well as the religious legitimacy and the legal reference authorities they depend on in resolving such questions.
Accordingly, in the case of the brother Yahya and sister Dalal the picture is now clearer, and therefore consider the remains in our possession are not those of any of the martyrs in the Dalal Moghrabi operation.
With regard to brother Mohammed Farran, we had previously informed his family upon the completion of Operation Al-Redwan, and stressed that the "Israelis" essentially denied having Muhammad in their custody neither as prisoner or his body as a martyr.
Of course this is what they claim, but we do not agree with this allegation, because the fishing boat he worked on was in "Israeli" hands before it was returned to the UNIFIL forces with Mohammed's blood on it. We, therefore, hold "Israel" responsible for the fate of brother Mohammad Farran.
Regarding this case, would it be classified as one of a prisoner who is alive?
Could it be classified ‘missing' or ‘unaccounted for'?
Or would it be classified under the context of a ‘martyr' whose body is held by the "Israelis"?
Here again, I say that we are not the entitled spiritual or legal party to decide on this matter, this is up to the family of Mohammed Farran and the legitimate religious and legal reference authorities, on whose opinion his family bases their decisions. According to what is in our possession, as far as the proposed names of the missing are considered, from previous prisoner swaps and for future ones, the situation is now clear.
As far as the rest of the file is concerned, there are lists of large numbers of Lebanese and Palestinian martyrs, Lebanese martyrs who fell on Lebanese territory, we have documents and photographs some journalistic others from private sources, that confirm occupation soldiers hold their bodies and later transferred them either by helicopters or by military vehicles.
These martyrs were taken by "Israeli" soldiers during operations carried out by the resistance, or taken and held when later found by the "Israelis".
As for the Palestinian martyrs, a large number of whom were martyred on Lebanese territory, especially during the "Israeli" invasion of Lebanon in 1982, when their bodies were held. A number of them were martyred on Palestinian territories, particularly in the north of occupied Palestine.
Due to conditions and circumstances experienced in the South over 25 or 30 years of occupation, a certain number of martyrs went unreported, which is why I say that the total number of Lebanese and Palestinian martyrs nears on 350, whose bodies were in territories under "Israeli" control and are still retained by the "Israelis" or at minimum we can say they have not been received by their families.
Hence the subject of the martyrs is still an open and ongoing issue.
Of course, the number of missing persons goes into the hundreds, with new evidence coming to the surface now and then; most of the missing persons are Lebanese, including some Palestinians.
Here I speak of the missing persons "Israel" is responsible for, because they were either captured at "Israeli" check points, or the occupation forces raided their homes, arrested them, and since then they disappeared without a trace.
Or they had been detained by "Israel's" militias-"Israel's" proxy South Lebanon Army- or by former Saad Haddad, who raided their homes, detained them and held them in prisons.
There are witnesses to the effect that there were detainees in those prisons who later went missing.
We classify this type of persons as ‘missing persons', because many long years have gone by since their disappearance, and here we hold "Israel" fully responsible because they were kidnapped by the "Israeli" Army or its proxy militia of agents operating on Lebanese territories under "Israeli" occupation control...This subject too remains open.
Of course the numbers and names need further confirmation, whether we talked about names of martyrs or missing persons.
Before I conclude to move on to the next subject, and from a responsible nationalistic sense of duty, and from a humanitarian and moral position, I call on the political authority in Lebanon - the Lebanese Government- particularly since we have a National Unity government, and given the ongoing efforts for years now in rebuilding the state, I call on the state to bear its responsibilities, as this file is primarily the concern and responsibility of the Lebanese state.
We, as a resistance movement, will certainly not abandon our responsibility, not for a moment, because these are our brothers, our people and our beloved. Whether concerning the bodies of martyrs, and we know the wishes of the parents of the martyrs' families, or regarding missing persons, who represent a humanitarian issue laden with hardships for their families, wives and for their sons and daughters.
We will not give up on this cause, moreover, on the commemorating the liberation day of prisoners and the Freedom Day, I would like to ask the Lebanese government to assume its responsibilities in this file, using any mechanism it finds suitable, no matter how or what it does, is entirely its responsibility.
I am not the one to determine for the Lebanese government how it manages this file.
Concurrently, we will not abandon our responsibility, are prepared to give any required assistance and are ready for all cooperation in this regard.
Turning to the second title, the four kidnapped Iranian diplomats
At the outset, when Operation al-Redwan took place, I and the concerned brothers went through the file and found very sensitive details, and it was clear it was going to be a national scale event and celebration, with everyone attending at the airport, all the media was going to be there during the reception of the released prisoners, including brother Samir Kintar and the bodies of martyrs, therefore, amid a good national atmosphere was forecasted, for which we are thankful.
We decided that opening the files of the four Iranian diplomats amid the prevailing positive atmosphere would create a rift in the national climate, or might negatively affect this national celebration one way or another, thus taking the country away from celebrating a major national victory Lebanon had achieved, towards internal dispute.
And you know the Lebanese when they start at each other; they start in one place and end up somewhere else all together.
This is the real reason why we did not raise this point then.
So I tied this topic with the DNA tests, in order to settle all outstanding issues from Operation al-Redwan. I did not expect it to be delayed for months, but we had to wait until we can announce the results directly.
Therefore, the timing was linked to the nature of the information, the national celebration and to the delays in the DNA test results.
On this subject, our actions are not based on an election campaign or political wrangling or anything else. You will also see through my presentation of the subject that it is a responsible presentation that does not want to engage in debates, nor score political points against anyone.
Regarding the four Iranian diplomats whether through the 2004 prisoner swap or in Operation al-Redwan, we arrived at or we were provided with the same conclusion. From Operation al-Redwan, we have a complete file of "Israeli" investigations the "Israelis" claim to have conducted.
Of course, as far as I am concerned, "Israel" is an enemy and therefore I can not count on everything the "Israelis" say; for us, everything "Israel" says needs scrutiny and investigation, but in the end it is a long report and we will see later if there is any benefit in bringing it out in the media, but for now there is some sensitivity on the subject because it contains a large list of names.
But this is the result "Israel" insists on, which we can not and will not accept, and if we want to achieve results ourselves, we need cooperation, and I will talk about this later.
"Israel" claims that the four Iranian diplomats were kidnapped by the Lebanese Forces in 1982; "Israel" claims they were liquidated by the Lebanese Forces, and buried in certain locations, and in its report "Israel" mentions possible burial sites.
This is the conclusion the "Israelis" reached and alleged in this report.
I contacted the Iranian brothers since that time, and as far as we are concerned there is information that might possibly hint to the four Iranian brothers currently still being present in "Israeli" prisons. Some data and evidence exist on this matter. "Israel's" denial on the issue whether regarding the four diplomats, regarding what we talked about before in relation to Yehya Skaff or brother Mohammad Farran cannot be built upon, because there are precedents when the "Israelis" denied the existence of captives in their keep for years, who were later found to exist.
For example, the five brothers the Lebanese Forces handed over to "Israel", who had been detained by the Lebanese Forces, and later turned them over to "Israel".
"Israel" denied having received them.
They remained without a trace for five years. After that period we learned through some letters that they are in "Israeli" jails, and subsequently were freed in one of the exchange operations later.
Therefore "Israel" has been known with such denials.
Where does this leave us now? How is this issue to be address?
What is well established here and is beyond doubt is that the Lebanese, the "Israelis", I also think even the officials in the Lebanese Forces, as well as all Lebanese, the Iranians, the Syrians and all those who worked on the security issue in Lebanon, certainly know that the four Iranian diplomats were under the protection of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, when they were kidnapped by the Lebanese Forces.
This is certain.
Besides, they were still alive for a period of time in the hands of the Lebanese Forces in one of their prisons. This is definite and needs no debate.
Past this point, facts and information on the diplomats start becoming unclear, giving rise to some questions.
Has the Lebanese Forces liquidated them, or killed them?
If they had killed them? Where are their bodies? At which location?
Are there body remains or were they destroyed?
These are questions that remain unanswered.
Are they still alive in the custody of the Lebanese Forces?
Of course, this is still a possible hypothesis even if weak.
Did the Lebanese Forces, who, at the time, had relations and coordination with the "Israelis", hand them over to the "Israelis"
This, too, is also a probability.
A clear stand today by the Lebanese Forces is needed on this matter and that helps.
Of course, I do not want to address the Lebanese Forces, but I would also like to say to the Lebanese government that the Iranian diplomats were officially assigned to Lebanon; they were in the custody and protection of the Internal Security Forces.
In other words they were in the protection of the Lebanese State when they were kidnapped and detained by the Lebanese Forces.
The side that knows their fate is the Lebanese Forces.
Did they kill them?
Did they hand them over to the "Israelis"?
It is the Lebanese government's concern to disclose their fate and clear this truth, especially since the Lebanese Forces today is a partner in the current government and the Ministry of Justice.
Regardless of whether we agree to certain data we have obtained or not, because part of the data came from the enemy during the negotiation process, we are prepared with all the data we have obtained or that reached us. The side capable of putting the Iranian diplomats' case on the right track to resolution is the Lebanese Forces, by saying what they have in their possession on this matter and clearly answering when they kidnapped the Iranian diplomats, and if they killed them.
If so, where are their bodies?
Did they hand them over to the "Israelis?"
This statement, if provided by the Lebanese Forces, can constitute a strong argument in the case against the "Israelis" in any future negotiations.
The key and solution to this matter is through this point.
I want to remind all those concerned with this matter, with the humanitarian dimension; in other words, there are four Iranian diplomats, who have families, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, relatives and friends who have been suffering since 1982.
A frank and clear reply is a humanitarian help, we do not raise this issue to score political points or to open wounds related to the past or the present.
At times some look for ridiculous and fabricated things in order to fabricate political events and media disputes. We have before us a moral and humanitarian issue; we want it isolated from any political purposes or gains.
At this point, with respect to outstanding matters related to Operation al-Redwan I think things have become apparent and clear.
The other matter I want to address in this press conference is linked to Gaza.
I prefer not to begin a talk about the internal situation in Lebanon, but I do not mind answering any question related to what I have so far presented, or with respect to the internal conditions.
I do not want to make preferences as to which points I will address first or last, knowing we do not have enough time and we are not in a lecture or speech now.
Regarding Gaza, I do not want to raise the matter from the perspective of an overall assessment, analysis, and a description of what happened or the results of what happened, but would rather remind and emphasize some of the responsibilities.
Of course based on our assessment, of which I will briefly sum up, I spoke on several occasions starting from the first day of the war on Gaza, and here I will stress the terms and objectives that were referred to in those talks.
A decision was made in the U.S. by the Bush administration, coordinated both internationally and on Arab world levels to exploit the remaining time of Bush's term in office, prior to Obama's taking the reigns of the U.S. presidency, ‘to change the facts' as phrased by Livni.
So ‘benefiting from the July war lessons', means:
-First, faced with the will and steadfastness of the resistance, he knows he is unable to achieve these goals;
-Secondly, he denied them as targets, hence if they are not achieved, he can say they were not goals to start with, and if accomplished, he can take credit and present them as brilliant outcomes of his military operation.
Searching through "Israeli" officials' statements there was a real difficulty seizing the objective, what was the real realistic objective the war aimed for in the Gaza Strip?
In the words changing the facts was in my opinion a true statement; there was a higher and lower objective.
The higher objective was to eliminate the resistance in the Gaza Strip, to bring down the Hamas government and crackdown on Hamas and other resistance factions.
This was the higher objective.
The lower objective was to subdue the resistance, Hamas, and the Strip, psychologically, politically and morally to accept conditions which will be presented in the context of the new settlement.
So there was a higher goal and a lower goal, which they planned in 3 phases:
Phase I: the air strikes, by itself a complete operation, in isolation of the ground operation. They expected the air strikes on Gaza, a narrow strip, to eliminate the resistance or at the least subdue it.
After 8 days of air strikes, the resistance did not fall nor was it subdued.
Their firmness, steadfastness and heroic stand prevented any objectives from being achieved in the first phase.
Phase 2: the ground operation in open spaces, bearing in mind there are no mountains or valleys in Gaza like we have here in south Lebanon, leading up to a siege of the cities, towns and villages along with limited ground operations.
The second phase failed to eliminate and subdue the resistance, and here we have to mention the solidity of the political leadership in the resistance, the legendary steadfastness of the Mujahidin of the resistance in Gaza-Palestine and the historical stand by the people of Gaza.
The second stage was barred from achieving its goals, with the resistance providing an image of being ready to fight until the last drop of blood and last bullet.
Phase 3: this phase was meant to be for entering overland into Palestinian towns and cities.
With time becoming constraining and the growing popular and none-popular movements in the Arab, Islamic and the larger worlds, the "Israelis" were becoming aware of the possibility that entering cities will heavily cost their forces, the "Israelis" were forced to make a unilateral ceasefire-and I say to you-without being able to achieve any of its stated or implied objectives.
The only thing they had remaining was to claim to have restored their deterrence ability, which brings us to question: does killing children and women, and does the destruction of houses, restore the image of deterrence?
In other words, similar to the operation carried out after the July 1993 aggression on South Lebanon; which left 11 "Israeli" soldiers dead.
When viewed carefully, objectively, without exaggeration or emotional reaction, what occurred in Gaza is an "Israeli" failure to achieve any goals, and a failure on both military and political levels.
Voices of members of the Winograd Commission began to come out today saying the reached end in the Gaza war is an exactly similar to the reached end in the second Lebanon war.
I believe these voices will grow louder as time passes by, because the media was under siege during the aggression, voices were strangled, officers and soldiers were prevented from speaking; thus a lot of facts and events that took place in Gaza have not been revealed so far.
From our position as a resistance movement, we consider what happened in Gaza as a grand victory for the Palestinian resistance and a grave failure of the aggression carried out by "Israel" and for everyone that stood behind this aggression.
Meanwhile, the daily attacks and the broad all out war may have stopped, but the war that had been ongoing before the aggression continues now still, which is what I want to highlight, not debate, now.
Those who did not recognize the resistance's victory in Lebanon won't recognize the victory in Palestine now for the same political reasons. Those who did not recognize the resistance's victory in Lebanon and the defeat and failure incurred by the "Israelis" and collectively recognized by them, will not recognize the victory of the Palestinian resistance at a time when some "Israelis" for election campaign reasons, are trying to deceive the people by telling them they had won and made achievements.
Therefore, I, personally, do not count on any results from persuading such people, because 'they have decided "Israel" to be victorious even if defeated, the resistance defeated even if victorious!'
Any strategic, tactical, objective or academic discussion, or study and research centers will deem useless on this level because of their pre-selected stands on the topic!
The point I wish to emphasize here is the following:
Today, seeing the continued siege on the Gaza Strip, I call on the Arab and Islamic peoples, the active powers and the entire world that stood by Gaza -I was one of those who called for supporting Gaza to break the imposed siege before the start of the aggression- that the blockade is still enforced on all the crossings, with Gaza under harsh humanitarian and living conditions now, more difficult than prior to the war.
Some are attempting now to impose "Israel's" conditions on the resistance and resistance factions, in particular on the Hamas leadership, when they were unable to impose them during the bombardment, destruction and killing!
Now they want to use the need of the resistance and the resistance community in Gaza to rebuild and the difficult living conditions they live under to impose these conditions!
In all honesty, linking the reconstruction and the provision of reconstruction assistance to the people of Gaza Strip with political conditions, whether linked to the Palestinian reconciliation, to the subject of the Palestinian truce with "Israel" or with the topic of settlement... is unacceptable immoral and offensive political blackmail that must be condemned.
Here I appeal to all and everyone to work together to provide assistance to the people of Gaza for the reconstruction of Gaza and to bring it out of the suffering endured by its people unconditionally and without political preconditions.
This is the humanitarian and moral position, for if we consider ourselves ‘Arab', then this is the Arab position, if Muslim, then this is the Islamic position. Any other talk is blackmail, humiliation, a service to serve the enemy, to complete the objectives of the aggression and a participation in the crime.
Therefore, the nation today, as I said during the days of the aggression, should not, at political, media and popular levels, resign itself to a sense of having done its duty and the view that the aggression against Gaza is over.
The aggression and war are still continuing in the Gaza Strip in other forms.
Therefore, action should be taken at all levels to protect the resistance leadership politically, at public levels through confronting pressures to pressure the opening of the crossings and lift the siege on the Palestinian people in Gaza, to help the Palestinians in rebuilding their homes and what ever else that was demolished, without political preconditions, whether this is done through provisions of assistance to the government in Gaza, to the resistance factions, or directly to the Palestinian people, through direct presence of states and institutions at the Strip; even if some are still preventing the arrival of aid, assistance and support from reaching the people of Gaza until now.
And the claim that some crossings are open here or there is a complete and utter lie, since the whole world knows it is a lie devoid of any truth.
I conclude by saying, and it is my duty to say that we condemn all the statements made, especially by some shameless European officials, one of whom came to Gaza and saw first-hand the destruction in the Gaza Strip and UNRWA schools, where women and children had been killed... he then stood without uttering a single word of condemnation against "Israel" the party responsible for killing 1300 Palestinians in broad daylight, half of whom were women and children!
To the contrary, he instead condemned Hamas as a terrorist group, because it launched some missiles which killed or wounded a small number of "Israeli" settlers!
He condemned Hamas because he believes it kills "Israeli" ‘civilians' (occupation settlers), even though at the time he was speaking from Gaza and not Tel Aviv, yet he did not dare condemn "Israel", accuse it of war crimes or of being a terrorist state.
This, brothers, sisters and listeners gives us a clear picture of the ready-made-stands the Americans and Europeans take in their categorical backing for "Israel", and in adopting "Israel's" worst crimes, now documented by the eyes and cameras of the entire world.
We condemn these remarks and believe Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the resistance factions in Gaza and Palestine are honorable and honest national resistance movements, springing from the depth of the will of the people, to represent the historic right of the Palestinians; as for those remarks they cannot affect the will of the resistance in Lebanon nor the will of the resistance in .Palestine
Answering Journalists' Questions
Your Eminence, who is voluntarily absent from us, peace on you. I am Maryam al-Bassam from New TV. First of all, this is not a question, but it is just a point. It is clear that at this news conference, you have created a new file on the confrontation with "Israel". It is the subsequent file on prisoners. After the confrontation was confined to the Shibaa Farms, which some sides used to describe as a weak pretext, the pretext has now become stronger to use weapons. This is not the question, but the question is: Your Eminence, you swore to avenge the blood of martyr Imad Mognieh. However, one year has passed on this oath. Has retaliation become behind you? Has there been any new information in the Syrian investigations, which might urge you to be patient?
Your Eminence, some sides say that you have used your weapons more inside than against the enemy, where they should be used. In the same context, Gaza has waited for you to support it, but the people of the Strip had only received mobilization speeches at night. Even when the simple rockets were fired from the south, you hastened to inform the information minister that the party has not become reckless. Has Hizbullah become an internal political movement and the regional and international formulas have managed to extinguish its fire? Are you now afraid of paying the price and the bill? Does this mean that you have come to realize things now? Your Eminence, please bear with us because we see you once every year.
Nasrallah: These are seven questions in one.
Bassam: OK. If Sayyed says so, I will stop here. Thank you.
Nasrallah: You have the right to reach this conclusion regarding the creation of a new file on the Lebanese prisoners. In the first place, this issue is not up to me now. I said that this decision is now for the family of Brother Yahya Skaff and the family of Brother Mohammad Farran to make. What are they going to consider them, martyrs? Therefore, practically speaking, this means that there are no longer any Lebanese prisoners in the "Israeli" prisons. If they consider them as martyrs, they will then join the list of martyrs. If they consider them missing, they will join the list of the missing. If they consider them prisoners, then this means that it is the responsibility of all of us to pursue this issue as being one of prisoners.
However, as I said, this issue is up to these families and to the legal and religious authority to settle this issue of life and death. You know that for all sides in Lebanon, Muslims or Christians, the mechanisms used to decide whether so-and-so has died are not simple mechanisms. Therefore, if they are considered alive, then we should assume that there are living prisoners with the "Israelis" and we should pursue their issue. I agree with your assessment here. However, this issue is not up to me, but it depends on the families' decision.
As for the retaliation, it will never be behind us; it will always be in front of us. The "Israelis" have been concerned about the retaliation from the very beginning. You must be aware of the measures that they are taking throughout the world. We should not talk about this issue. I think that the use of the word retaliation should be scrutinized a little bit. It is necessary to respond to the killing of martyr leader Hajj Imad Mognieh to punish the killers. "In the Law of Equality there is (saving of) life to you, o ye men of understanding; that ye may restrain yourselves."
This is also necessary to protect the lives of others. You should not expect any comment from us with regard to the date, venue, method, what happened, what has not happened, and the "Israeli" claims that something happened - as they said yesterday and which was published in some newspapers today. We will neither deny nor confirm this. You should not expect a comment on this, as this issue is of different nature.
As for the issue of investigation, I stress to you that through the investigation and based on our information regarding this issue, the investigation has led, in an unequivocal manner, to clear and specific results that hold the "Israelis" and the "Israeli" Mossad responsible for the assassination of martyr Hajj Imad Mognieh. However, the details of this investigation were not divulged because the investigation is still continuing. Therefore, divulging the details and some facts would obstruct the remaining issues. Therefore, Syria has not officially announced the results and details of investigation. For me, however, providing I am not an official Syrian side, based on my information about the file, I stress to you that the investigation has proved our political and logical accusation; namely, that the "Israeli" Mossad was the side that killed martyr leader Hajj Imad Mognieh.
As for the Gaza issue, some sides have raised it during the war. We used to express our solidarity on the political, media, and popular levels. Perhaps, there were other issues on which we used to cooperate and I am not forced to clarify them or to answer this issue. However, the question has something to do with the Lebanese front. Should we have done this? If we should have done this, where should this decision be made? What is the Lebanese will on this issue? These are a host of issues, which were strongly related to our performance and conduct. At any rate, I do not believe that I am in a position of self-defence here. We are still a resistance that is present to defend Lebanon and to confront this enemy every time we should do this.
We have never been out of the circle of the conflict even for one moment. However, since you asked about this issue, let me say that some sides in Lebanon and the Arab world, particularly in Lebanon, came out to say one thing and its opposite. In other words, they denounce the firing of rockets and prohibit the opening of the Lebanese front. In the same statement, however, they say that the resistance in Lebanon has not given the people of Gaza other than speeches and demonstrations. They confused us. What do they want, the first or the second? It is clear that their conduct is passive and they do not want to reach a conclusion. Based on our diagnosis, what we have done in Lebanon was the limit of the possible duty that we had to do in Lebanon.
As for the rockets issue, I stress to you that we have not initiated any contact with anyone. We have not issued a statement on the rockets issue and we have not initiated a contact with anyone. The prime minister contacted the political aide and asked him, hajj, do you have any relationship with the firing of the rockets? He told him that we have no relationship and we do not have any information on this issue. This was it, three words. The information minister then said that Hizbullah has informed us. However, we have not informed him. We were alert even to this kind of detail. This is regardless of the fact of whether we agree or do not agree on the firing of rockets, or on whether this is useful or not. This is the kind of discussion that exists in the country.
However, our conduct on this issue was a cautious one so that no one will read between the lines the wrong way. Even the expressions the information minister has used were his own expressions. All that we have said was that we had no information about and we had nothing to do with this issue. Who? We do not know, and we are not border guards to search in order to know who did this.
First, Good Evening, your eminence, Bassam al-Kintar from Al-Akbar newspaper: I have a two-part comment. The first part is non-journalistic. It concerns a very important occasion. In my name and on behalf of the families of all the martyrs we would like to renew our thanks to you and to reaffirm our commitment and loyalty and big and absolute confidence in your noble person. In the name of the families, which are still waiting to know the fate of their sons and the governments and others, I believe this is a tactical and political matter. But in the name of all the families we say that we do not depend on the government even if it is a national unity government. We only depend on the resistance to liberate and uncover the fate of our beloved ones.
The journalist part of the question is: Two things have transpired in the Gaza aggression. The first was the wounding of soldier Shalit, and therefore his fate is unknown. The other thing was the disclosure of the Egyptian role, which colluded with the occupation, and therefore its fall as a mediator for the release of this soldier. My question, your eminence, do you advise the brothers in Hamas Movement to demand the release of living prisoners or martyr remains in return for revealing this soldier's fate, which is unknown today? The other thing is, do you advise them to quickly change the Egyptian mediator and propose, for example, a European or Turkish mediator to resolve the matter, as I believe that the thousands of families of Palestinian detainees are waiting for its resolution at higher prices, especially after the heavy blood in Gaza? Thank you.
Nasrallah: I do not have any information on the subject o f Gilad Shalit. I don't know anything. But the negotiation tactic is left to the Hamas leadership. The difference between what we had and what they have is Gilad Shalit is living. Regardless of the talk whether he was injured or not, the "Israeli" is negotiating on a living prisoner. In our case, it was not clear from the first moment if they were alive or dead. It was possible to negotiate on the information. Second, the negotiation there is a bit complicated due to the Palestinian anticipation of a bigger exchange. In our case, the number of Lebanese prisoners was limited and we sought to see whether we could include non-Lebanese prisoners. But, there they have a real problem with the number of Palestinian prisoners. They will have to decide on this tactic.
On the subject of adopting another mediator, I am not fully informed on the negotiation conditions. But let me tell you something: according to my information, even if Hamas wanted to look for another mediator, the "Israeli" would only accept the Egyptian mediator for the exchange. This is what I believe. Next question please.
Your eminence, Hussein Ayoub from As-Safir: Do you believe, your eminence, that in light of the Gaza war that "Israel" is capable of launching an aggression against Lebanon within a short period of time? This is first. Second, your eminence, regarding the speech you addressed to the Egyptian street and public, do you believe that it was appropriate, especially since some of Hizbullah's friends and your friends said that it would have been better if you confined yourself to calling for opening the Rafah crossing? The second part, your eminence, is related to the speech by King Abdallah at the Kuwait Summit; what is your assessment of this speech, and why did the Kuwait summit resolutions not rise to this ceiling, instead coming much lower than the ceiling set by the Saudi speech? Thank you your eminence.
Nasrallah: Regarding the possibility of war with an enemy whose nature is aggression and treachery; an enemy that is thirsty for blood - and these are not speeches and poetry, but facts that we in the Arab World have been seeing for 60 years - no one can say that Lebanon is safe. As for whether it will take action or not, I cannot deny or confirm. I say that with an enemy with such an aggressive nature, this possibility stands at all times. You tell me, and some people say, we should not give it an excuse, but it can invent the excuse it wants. Who gave it the excuse to carry out the 1982 invasion? There was a cease-fire in southern Lebanon, and the excuse was some unknown persons who tried to assassinate the "Israeli" ambassador, who remained alive until two or three years ago, so they invaded Lebanon and occupied Beirut.
This possibility will remain due to the nature of this enemy, but in the end, there are hardships before this assumption.
The reason is that after the July war and the Gaza war, war will not be a picnic, no, it will be very difficult and costly for the "Israeli". This is the equation that must stand. If anyone imagines that someone could wage war - I am not here to discuss a defence strategy, but some people have commented - if someone wants to wage war without the loss of civilian victims, let him show me a single war since God created Adam in which no people were killed. It is war, especially when your enemy has fatal weapons, it will kill civilians. In the Grapes of Wrath, the July War in Lebanon, and the Gaza war, the "Israeli" purposely killed civilians. He killed them purposely and not by mistake in order to undermine the will of the resistance's leadership and men and to turn the people against the resistance.
The civilian will continue to be exposed to danger. After all, this is war, in which both soldiers and civilians are martyred. But the thing is to present an equation, or what is called a balance of deterrence or a balance of terror to your enemy. The "Israeli" says I have made a balance. Who says that the "Israeli" does not have vast destruction powers? Do we deny this? Do our Palestinian brothers deny this? No one denies it. This is nothing new, no, what is new is that you are now telling him that I too have struck a balance and can deter you, and that war with us will be very costly for you and your entity, people, army, capabilities and resources.
This balance is the one that can stop, deter, or reduce the possibility of aggression, but the possibility of aggression will always stand. On the Egyptian subject, with due respect to the opinions of all the brothers, you know that I am not stubborn. After we came out with a big victory from the July war - Ms Mariam posed a question and I could have avoided giving an answer; I could have said that this subject is irrelevant to the capture of the two "Israeli" soldiers, and I did, but because I was sincere and transparent, I uttered that sentence, which is the only thing people remember of the July war.
I am not a stubborn man, and therefore, I tell you with all due respect to the political leaders and great journalists who wrote and said that my stand on the Egyptian subject was wrong, I say that my stand was very correct. I tell you now that I condemn the Egyptian regime because it continues to close the Rafah crossing. It is not for everything, I condemn this regime because it is continues to lie to the Arab and Islamic world and say that it has opened the crossing. This is not correct. This crossing must be opened because the Palestinians need medicine.
Today, the Lebanese shores will receive an Iranian ship carrying 20,000 tons of foodstuffs, medicines, etc. Now, why did the Egyptians refuse to receive the ship and unload the cargo on their territory so that it may then pass through the Rafah crossing? This should have taken place during the war and after the war. No, the Egyptian regime is an accomplice to the siege of the Gaza Strip. True, it is a coercive mediator, as there is no escape from this mediator, but is it an honest mediator? I doubt that. I feel and know that it is trying to pressure the Palestinians and to impose other people's terms on the Palestinians.
Therefore, it is not a question of courtesy. I will find it strange if someone asks us to open a front, but he will not allow us to criticize Egypt so strongly. No, I criticized it and I am still criticizing it and whoever considers this stand wrong is free in his political performance and tactic. I believe that to the Gaza Strip, the Rafah Crossing is vital. It is vital for the resistance, the people, their life, their blood, and their bread. Therefore, the closure of this crossing is one of the greatest historical crimes to be committed, and it is still being committed. Do not ask me more.
Regarding the Kuwait summit, of course, we are for any Arab reconciliation, whether between S and S, M and S, or whatever. We are with any Arab reconciliation, any Islamic reconciliation, any rapprochement, union, coordination, and cooperation without any restrictions or conditions. We consider it a great service to the interests of our people and religion. This is one of the causes of victory and steadfastness. 'And fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart."
We support this reconciliation. We do not view this subject from the angle of local tactics. I know that on that night when King Abdallah and President Bashar shook hands and embraced each other, some people in Lebanon frowned and were annoyed, and even had trouble sleeping. On the contrary, regarding this subject, we believe that any rapprochement, cooperation, or reconciliation between Arab governments is of definite and great interest.
Now, it is said that the speech was dictated by the circumstances. Any positive talk and any talk that contains support regardless of its ceiling, we will support and hail. There is no argument about that. But, unfortunately, we did not find in the Arab foreign ministers' statement any trace of what was said in the speeches. Therefore, the statement was not only beneath the ceiling set by the speeches at the Doha summit, but also beneath the ceiling set by the speeches at the Kuwait summit. This is regretful and sorrowful, of course; however, we must take any positive thing in inter-Arab relations, build on it, and help develop it. Next question please.
Peace be upon you, your eminence. Sylvania Bashir from the BBC Arabic Service: My question deals with the dialogue sessions on the defence strategy. There are people who say that you are serious about reaching a common view with the other Lebanese parties on this strategy. On the other hand, there are those who believe that the dialogue sessions were a waste of time, and therefore you determined the issue of this strategy by calling on everyone to accept the Hizbullah strategy; that is the resistance. What do you say?
Nasrallah: Had we determined the issue and said that it was no longer subject to discussion, others would not have been calling us to the dialogue table. What I said in my speech on the 10th was that the July and Gaza experiences have determined, or should determine, the issue. I used the two expressions on the basis that these are facts. If we are to build on facts and real assessments, our strategic view should have already been determined. But, we did not take this subject out of the circle of dialogue and discussion. Therefore, we are still sitting around this table. I believe that this discussion will continue. If the negotiation table is offering a minimum in the service of the country, meaning an agreement among these leaders and the calm atmosphere in the country, this is fine. This is not the aim of the dialogue table, but is one of its results.
Incidentally, I call for stressing the calm atmosphere even in the elections. I warn against adopting the sectarian discourse because it is no less dangerous than using money in the elections. This is worse, more dangerous, more hideous, and more influential on the elections than the use of political money.
On the subject of dialogue, we are still open to all the other views and we discuss them seriously, although we still stress our opinion on the need to expand the dialogue table so as to include other principle parties in the country, since we are speaking about a crucial subject. Next question please.
Peace be upon you your eminence, Mariam Saleh from Press TV. My question to you is about the new US President. True, there is not a big difference, but the simple difference is that he is ready to listen to others as he says. Are you ready to convey your viewpoint even if indirectly, perhaps through Turkey, despite the hostile US language, if we may say so? This is one question. The other question is some people say that if there was a comprehensive settlement in the region with Iran, Syria, and Qatar, these states might abandon the resistance card. What would be the Hizbullah viewpoint and what would your reaction be in the event of such a settlement?
Nasrallah: Of course, we hear a great deal of talk. Some see positive points in it and others approach it with caution. But the behavior of the new administration, as far as the "Israeli" issue is concerned, is one that adopts and that is fully supportive. As far as the "Israeli" issue is concerned, I have not felt that there is any difference between the two administrations. There may have been some difference in the approach to other topics, but this is still talk. We have to see the actions.
You asked me if we could convey our viewpoint indirectly, it is being conveyed indirectly. We don't need Turkey. In the July war, Lebanese officials sat with US officials and delegations. Of course, we did not sit with them because we had a certain stand or certain reservations. But we do not need to talk indirectly with anyone through Turkey or others. Perhaps, our brothers in Hamas have to do that, but we do not. If we have a certain viewpoint, we can convey it through Lebanese officials and leaders and express our opinion fully, although we express our viewpoints to the news media. We have nothing to hide, and therefore, we might not be in need of such channels, but if we ever need such channels, then we prefer Lebanese channels. Let us stay with made in Lebanon.
Regarding the fear of abandonment, first the resistance, whether in Lebanon or Palestine, stands for justice and defends a just cause. Whoever supports us, we will thank, and whoever abandons his support for us, will have failed. This is their business, but it will not weaken the resistance or affect the right of the resistance, although I believe that such questions are very hasty; pardon, the assessment and not your question; the assumed assessment is very hasty. It is hasty to assume that matters are proceeding well and that the rejection states will abandon us and see what the resistance can do alone. This is very premature. In my opinion, this will not happen, but let us say at least that this is very premature. Next question please, because we cannot spend more time on this.
Peace be upon you your eminence, Qasid Dughman from NBN TV. Allow me first to extend to you, your eminence, the warmest congratulations for the victory achieved by the resistance in Gaza, because this victory means a great deal to you and to free men in Lebanon and the whole world.
My question, Sayyed Hassan, is that you called on the Lebanese Government and the Lebanese Forces to deal positively with the file of the prisoners or the missing persons. You also called on the Lebanese Government to tackle the issue of the bodies of the martyrs and prisoners. If the Lebanese Government does not respond to your call, and you said that you are ready to offer any assistance, would that mean that we will not see a repeat of the July 2006 war, especially since you coined the slogan: we are a people who do not leave our prisoners and the bodies of our martyrs with the enemy?
My other question is that yesterday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu-al-Ghayt criticized Hizbullah and accused it of trying with Hamas and Iran to spark a war in the Middle East. How far, your eminence, will the mutual incriminations, if I may say, between Egypt and the Lebanese resistance continue, especially in light of the formal reconciliation at the Kuwait summit? Thank you.
Nasrallah: On the first issue, the concern for the prisoner file - or the retrieval of the bodies of martyrs and the disclosure of the fate of missing persons - if this file is reopened, it will not mean going to war at all. I said this before and I reaffirm it now. Furthermore, all the investigations, including what came in the Winograd report, and all that was written and conveyed said that the July war had nothing to do with the capture of the two "Israeli" soldiers, nothing, and that it was already set to take place on a certain date. It was supposed to take place in September or October.
Some people do not like these literatures. Still, let me tell you that it was heavenly grace, or good luck, or whatever you may consider it, say and whatever you believe in, that the resistance carried out the capture on 12 July 2006 that expedited the war, which was to have taken place in September or October 2006, and which would have used deception and surprise like on the first day in Gaza and would have been more expanded and complicated at home and abroad.
Thanks to this heavenly grace or good luck, if you want, that the capture of the soldiers was used as an excuse to wage a war that was already decided to build a new Middle East and to liquidate the region's remaining opposition and resistance to the new Middle East. Therefore, you have observed that they spoke about everything pertaining to the July war except the two prisoners. In their speeches and even in the negotiations that took place, they spoke about the two prisoners in the first few days, but then nobody spoke about the two prisoners with us. All the talk was about the war and the results of the war. Therefore, the concern about this file should not expose Lebanon to a new war.
On the other subject concerning the argument between us and the Egyptian officials, this is natural because there is a sharp conflict in the region. There is the resistance camp that adheres to Arab rights, to the Lebanese national rights, and the Palestinian rights, and, there is a camp that wants to end this file in any way. So it is natural for an argument to take place between the two camps.
But incidentally, during the July war, do you want to tell me that the one who colluded against the Palestinians did not collude against us then? No, he definitely colluded against us. But in the July war, since we were the ones being bombed and killed, and since we were the ones who were fighting, we did not want to enter into an argument with anyone at home or abroad. Those who harmed us at home and abroad were numerous. Just consider: From being accused of treason or being agents for Iran and Syria, to takfir, prohibition of prayers for us, and whatever you want. We were also accused of giving information and instigating.
But, we took a decision in the July war not to utter a single word, just as the Palestinian resistance did. Some may come and say you are attacking when they are not, but they must do as we did in the July war. We did not attack anyone. They have their circumstances as we had ours in the July war. But today I am not the one who is being usurped in Gaza directly. Today, we are in need of a clear and strong political stand. And this was imposed by the previous battle. Of course, there is a party that insists that the Lebanese resistance must surrender and that the Palestinian resistance must surrender.
When someone comes and makes an offer to the Palestinians and says: Permanent truce, or if not permanent, one for 10 or 15 years, and a pledge that you will not smuggle weapons into Gaza - that is, after the war that took place - and will reach a reconciliation on the following conditions and bases and will go to a settlement with the "Israeli". What is he telling them? He is telling them: Surrender. If the Palestinian cannot cry out, I am his brother and I will cry out on his behalf.
Therefore, I believe that this argument is very natural due to the vehemence of the existing conflict. It is not a conflict of international and regional axes, but the conflict of a cause. There are people who want to protect this cause and there are others who want to liquidate it, to be fully honest. Last question please.
Mohammad Qazan from Al-Manar TV: Your eminence, how did you view the recent statement by Deputy Saad Hariri; was it part of the election campaign, or was it meant to obliterate the reconciliation that took place between you and him, especially since he spoke against Iran and recalled the 7 May incidents? Another question on the margin of this question: You condemned the blackmailing of the Palestinian resistance on the issue of reconstruction; how do you view today the withholding of the July war compensation funds from the people of the south? There is an argument now between Speaker Berri and Prime Minister Saniora on this subject? Thank you your eminence.
Nasrallah: I would like to apologize to everyone and consider this to be the last question, because we have taken too much time. Regarding the statement, of course we did not reply in the media. I sent a friendly reproach to Sheikh Saad through our common friends. This is not the atmosphere in which we sat down together and came to an understanding. At any rate, I call for the continuation of the calm atmosphere. This is in the interest of all parties. There is nothing in it. No one is doing anyone a favour with this calm - the 8 March movement is not doing the 14 March movement a favour or vice versa. Anyone can cry out and anyone can make a speech, and perhaps some people deliver better speeches than others. Anyone can rally and anyone can write. All t his exists. Calm is not a favour, calm is a national interest and I call for it.
It was said on the margin of the dialogue table that we attacked the Egyptian regime. Is this part of the internal calm; what has it got to do with it? Well, ever since we agreed on the calm, you have been attacking Syria, Iran, and the Syrian-Iran axis on a daily basis. At any rate, on this matter I just call for continuation of the calm, which is a national interest. Even in the elections, we can all engage in political, logical, objective, and scientific discussion and propose ideas, programmes, and options without anyone of us resorting to accusing the other or of rousing sectarianism.
The last subject you spoke about, of course, we fully support Speaker Nabih Berri. The Southern Council still has a job to do. Before the July war, it had been decided that the Southern Council would be terminated, liquidated, and tackled. This has not taken place so far. The July war came and added to the Southern Council's tasks the issue of the compensations and other matters that have been entrusted to it. Therefore, if there is a state institution with a responsibility, it must be given the funds.
Now, if there is going to be a discussion on the origin of the Southern Council issue, we are open to this discussion. There is no objection to that. The national unity government exists and all are represented in it. Come to the discussion. There is the Southern Council, the Deportees Fund, the Higher Relief Committee, and the Development and Reconstruction Council. These funds and councils were established on the margin of the ministries. We can talk about all of them. We are open and we call for administrative and financial reform. We also have our own opinion on this matter.
We call for the cancellation of all these funds and returning the responsibilities to the competent ministries and establishing a Planning Ministry, which will plan and supervise. We will assign it certain specific jobs. We are fully open to the reform process. But, in the present circumstances; at the time when there is a compensation crisis, a reconstruction crisis, and files which have not yet been closed in the south, to cancel the Southern Council and make its budget zero, this is absolutely unacceptable. In fact, I will say more than that, sometimes one feels as if there is something psychological, cultural, or informational. Everything that is related to the south; if you speak about the resistance and the resistance or liberation day, it is deleted, while new holidays are created and the resistance or liberation day is deleted.
And now, there is talk about canceling the Southern Council without completing the files and not as part of a complete reform process. We are not insistent and saying that we want a Southern Council under any form, no, we are ready for the reform process.
If you come to the subject of the freed prisoners you find that they are suffering. If you go to the families of the martyrs, you find that they are suffering. How strange. In everything that is related to the south, the resistance, the history of the resistance, and this file, you find that there is a kind of negligence and a kind of ignorance. There is an attempt to forget it.
If a day came and this file drowned not in the sea of Gaza but in the sea of Lebanon, some people will not regret it. I am not making any accusations, but I say that the people of the south must not have this feeling, and I believe that they have this feeling.
What I call for is enabling the Southern Council, within legal bounds, to carry out the remaining tasks entrusted to it and to complete the files referred to it; foremost, the issue of the July war compensations and the discussion of the issue of the Southern Council within the context of a general reform perspective, in which we support - and I say it right now - the cancellation of all the funds and councils which were established on the margin of the ministries and the establishment of a Planning Ministry. Bless you.