BEIRUT, Lebanon – Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah promised Friday that his opposition alliance would intensify its campaign to bring down the government, pledging to mount an “effective” action in the coming days. In an interview with his group’s Al-Manar television, Nasrallah said Hezbollah’s consultations with its allies were drawing to a close and they would release a statement shortly that spelled out the steps to be taken.
“I believe this action will be effective, very important and very big,” he said. He would not divulge the plan but urged all Lebanese to support it.
Since Dec. 1 Hezbollah and its allies have staged street protests and sit-ins, camping outside the prime minister’s office, in a bid to topple the government of Fuad Saniora.
Newspapers have said if Hezbollah steps up its anti-government campaign, it may stage a general strike and block major roads. When asked if the opposition would close roads, or Beirut’s port or airport, Nasrallah declined to respond.
He said the campaign would remain nonviolent. One person was shot dead during a street confrontation between rival factions, but the protests have been largely peaceful.
Nasrallah said Hezbollah would never use weapons in its political struggle in Lebanon, repeating that the group’s arms were for fighting
He said the resignation of Israel’s military chief proved that his group had won the July-August war with Israel, and forecast that the country’s prime minister and defense minister would also have to resign.
“It is natural and logical,” he said, for Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz to quit. “I expect him to resign. He will be the next victim.”
He predicted that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would also pay the price of Israel’s failure to crush Hezbollah and secure the release of its soldiers in the 34-day war.
“In the end, (Olmert) will either resign or be overthrown,” Nasrallah said.
The chief of Israeli armed forces, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, resigned Wednesday, saying he had to take responsibility. Internal inquiries by the Israeli military found widespread problems in the forces’ performance during the conflict.
His resignation generated Israeli calls for Olmert and Peretz to step down as well. The three leaders were widely blamed for the war’s shortcomings.
Nasrallah said that Halutz’s resignation showed that Hezbollah achieved a “historic, strategic victory” in the war.
“What is happening now confirms that,” Nasrallah said, adding that when he heard of the resignation, “I felt happiness.”
He said the deterrent power of the Israeli armed forces had “collapsed.”
“There is a crisis of confidence in the Israeli army, unprecedented since its inception,” he said.
The war began on July 12 after a Hezbollah cross-border raid in which two Israeli soldiers were captured. Israel launched a ground invasion of southern Lebanon and a massive aerial bombardment that destroyed huge chunks of Lebanon’s infrastructure and hundreds of homes.
Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into northern Israel. More than 1,000 people were killed in Lebanon and about 160 Israelis.