Hizballah is menacing its enemies inside and outside Lebanon, with mixed results. On Wednesday, Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah called on followers to be prepared "to take over the Galilee" in the next war with Israel.
In the past, "nobody even imagined that anyone in Lebanon could possibly take over the north of Palestine, or the Galilee," Nasrallah said in a speech broadcast on Hizballah's al-Manar television. The debate used to be about whether Israel would occupy Lebanon.
But today "there are serious discussions in Israel about whether the resistance in Lebanon is capable of occupying the north of Palestine and taking over the Galilee region," Nasrallah said. "I say to the mujahideen of the Islamic resistance: be prepared for a day when war is forced upon Lebanon, and the commanders of the resistance may ask you to take over the Galilee."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, apparently unimpressed, responded that Nasrallah would be a fool to send his forces across the border.
"Nasrallah said he would capture the Galilee, I have news for you - you won't," Netanyahu responded. "We have a strong army. We seek peace with all of our neighbors, but the IDF is prepared to defend Israel from any of its enemies."
Netanyahu warned Nasrallah "that he should stay in his bunker" – a reference to the fact that the Hizballah boss spends much of his time in hiding to prevent Israel from assassinating him.
But Nasrallah's intimidation efforts have apparently been more successful inside Lebanon. The pressure appears to have worked in the case of Walid Jumblatt, a Druze member of Parliament who had been one of the most outspoken critics of Hizballah and its Syrian backers since the 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Today, Jumblatt is a supporter of Hizballah, and to his former political allies in Lebanon's Future Movement (the party headed by Sa'ad Hariri, Rafik's son), there is no question why his views have changed so dramatically. "Jumblatt twists and turns to justify his stance," a Future Movement official said Friday. "The fear of arms is what led to…Jumblatt's shift in alliance."