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Hezbollah chief Nasrallah says Israel attacks on Jerusalem mean regional war

Hassan Nasrallah spoke on the 21-year anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon
A demonstrator holds a picture of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during a protest to express solidarity with the Palestinians in Beirut suburbs on 17 May 2021 (Reuters)

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Tuesday that any Israeli aggression on the holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem would lead to a regional war, in his first comments after a ceasefire ended Israel’s 11-day military operation on Gaza.

"When holy sites face serious threats there are no red lines," Nasrallah said in a televised speech marking the anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon after 21 years of occupation.

“The [Israeli] occupation must understand that violating the holy city and al-Aqsa Mosque and sanctuaries will not stop at Gaza.

"The equation we must reach is that breaching Jerusalem means a regional war."

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Israel launched its bombing campaign on the besieged Gaza Strip on 10 May after the Hamas movement launched rockets into Israeli territory in response to Israeli attacks on al-Aqsa Mosque and the violent crackdown on Palestinians protesting the imminent forced expulsion of four families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah’s neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem.

Nasrallah said the latest conflict between Hamas and Israel has shown that the Palestinian movement had greatly advanced its rocket capabilities, which he said was a major military achievement.

"They had the ability to launch rockets for 11 days and they could continue," he said.

A ceasefire came into effect in Israel and Gaza on Friday, following a devastating escalation in violence in which Israeli air strikes on Gaza killed at least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, and caused widespread destruction. Rockets fired from the enclave also killed 12 people in Israel.

In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, 29 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces.

“[Israeli army chief Lieutenant-General Aviv] Kochavi, who had threatened [Gaza] with ground operations, was powerless and defeated in the face of besieged Gaza and locally-made rockets,” Nasrallah said, warning Israel against any miscalculations in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, tensions remain high in Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank.

On Tuesday, 91 Israeli settlers broke into the al-Aqsa Mosque complex flanked by Israeli police. A day earlier, the Israeli police launched an operation of mass arrests of Palestinians involved in protests against Israeli settlement policies in East Jerusalem and the bombardment of the Gaza Strip.