Lebanon Hezbollah Israel
BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah on Saturday categorically denied Israeli claims about his group having factories to produce precision-guided missiles in Lebanon, saying such "lies" were an attempt to justify Israeli attacks against the country.
In a speech to hundreds of his followers who gathered in the group's stronghold in southern Beirut, Hassan Nasrallah said his group possessed precision-guided missiles but not the factories to produce them.
"We do not have factories to produce precision-guided missiles in Lebanon," he said.
He spoke a week after Israel crash-landed two drones in Hezbollah-dominated southern Beirut. One of the drones landed on the roof of Hezbollah's media office while another exploded and crashed nearby, causing a fire and damage to buildings.
The Iranian-backed group said both drones were armed with explosives and were carrying out an attack mission.
Israeli media reported that early this week, Israeli drones targeted a Beirut facility housing a "planetary mixer," a large industrial machine that is critical to making missiles.
Israel's prime minister accused Iran and its proxy Hezbollah of racing to build a missile-production program in Lebanon, vowing to destroy the ambitious project and issuing a stern warning to his enemies to "be careful."
The threats ratcheted up an already tense standoff that has pushed the bitter adversaries closer toward open, armed conflict in recent weeks.
Nasrallah said Netanyahu was looking for pretexts to hit Lebanon. He said it is Hezbollah's "right" to have such factories, "but we have nothing of the sort."
He also reiterated his group's intention to retaliate for the Israeli attack, saying Israel "must pay a price" for its aggression.
"All the threats and intimidations will not prevent the retaliation of the resistance," he said.
The timing and scale of Hezbollah's response, he added, was in the hands of field commanders.