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Nasrallah urges Arabs to leave Haifa By JOSEPH PANOSSIAN, Associated Press Writer
Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday warned all Israeli Arabs to leave the port city of Haifa so the militant group could step up attacks without fear of shedding the blood of fellow Muslims.
Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city, has been the frequent target of Hezbollah’s rocket attacks.
“I have a special message to the Arabs of Haifa, to your martyrs and to your wounded. I call on you to leave this city. I hope you do this. … Please leave so we don’t shed your blood, which is our blood,” Nasrallah said.
The Shiite cleric also gave a deeply negative assessment of the proposal to halt fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon in his first comments on a draft U.N. cease-fire resolution.
“The least we can describe this (draft resolution) is as unfair and unjust. It has given Israel more than it wanted and more than it was looking for,” he said in a televised speech.
But in a policy shift, Nasrallah said the guerrilla organization was solidly behind a Lebanese government plan to deploy 15,000 soldiers in south Lebanon if a cease-fire is reached and Israel pulls out its forces.
“In the past we used to oppose or not agree on deployment of the army at the borders,” the Hezbollah leader said. Now, he said, “we agree on deployment of the army.”
Lebanon has been pushing to amend the U.S.-French proposal to require that Israeli withdraw its troops from the south immediately after a cease-fire is agreed. But U.S. envoy David Welch told Prime Minister Fuad Saniora that Israel had rejected the demand.
Nasrallah heaped criticism on the assistant U.S. secretary of state for visiting Beirut Wednesday as the Israel’s Security Cabinet decided to expand the ground offensive in southern Lebanon.
“We will be waiting for you at every village, at every valley. Thousands of courageous holy warriors are waiting for you,” he warned the Israelis.
Welch’s visit to the Lebanese capital, he said, was designed “to terrify the government and the Lebanese to pressure them to accept old-new conditions.”
He said the Americans were trying to undermine any attempt at a solution that takes into consideration Lebanese demands and he urged Beirut not to buckle under U.S. pressure.
“I call for political will and steadfastness,” he said.
He also said the guerrillas would not falter, promising “We’ll keep fighting to the last shot.”
Nasrallah said his fighters already had won the conflict by putting up such a fierce fight through the month long Israeli onslaught that began after guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers July 12 in a cross-border mission.
“On the battlefield, we remain steadfast and that in itself is a victory for the resistance, and defeat for the enemy,” he said.