April 7, 1997 in Nation/World

‘Love Of Martyrdom’ Called Hezbollah’s Edge

Associated Press

The leader of the Islamic militant group Hezbollah said he was confident it would drive Israel from southern Lebanon because it has a weapon the Israelis can’t match: suicide operations.

“The Israelis have very big military capabilities,” Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of the Iranianbacked militia, told The Associated Press. “They are receiving military, technical, logistic and other support from the United States.”

But he added: “We are superior in faith, will, courage and the love of martyrdom.”

The Shiite Muslim Hezbollah, or Party of God, has pledged to drive Israel out of the enclave it has occupied in southern Lebanon since 1985.

The Israelis have deployed fighter jets, helicopter gunships and other weaponry. In addition to 1,500 Israeli troops and 2,500 Lebanese militia allies on the ground in the south, they send commando units into the area.

Hezbollah - with an estimated 3,000 fighters - has countered with suicide bombings, remote-controlled roadside bombs, direct attacks on Israeli forces and occasional rocket fire on northern Israel.

Israel has long accused Iran of providing Hezbollah with weapons. But Nasrallah denied this, saying Iran’s aid was only humanitarian.

“We can fulfill our needs through purchases and the (international arms) market,” he said.

The guerrillas have killed more than 170 Israeli soldiers in the south since 1985.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email