Political pressure will help Gaza - Hezbollah
ERIKA SOLOMON AND LAILA BASSAM
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has urged Arab states to use all political means possible, including raising oil prices, to end Israeli air strikes on Gaza, suggesting this could be as effective as military attacks on the Jewish state.
The leader of Lebanon's powerful Shi'ite militant group, which fought a war with Israel in 2006, called on countries with ties to the United States and the West to pressure them to help stop the air strikes.
"No one is telling Arab countries today, 'please go open your borders and begin the operation to liberate Palestine’. What we want is to end the attack on Gaza," Nasrallah said in a televised address to mark the first day of the Shi'ite holiday of Ashoura.
"This is everyone's battle ... We're not asking you for a solution, we're asking for effort."
Violence between Israel's armed forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza has moved towards an all-out war as violence continued for a second day, with 16 Palestinians and three Israelis killed.
Nasrallah said Arab countries close to Washington and other Western countries must urge them to exert pressure on Israel, the main US ally in the Middle East, and said that the weakened American and European economies could give Arab countries more influence.
"Some say the Arabs don't have the courage to stop oil production," he said. "Decrease your oil exports to it or raise the price a little and you will shake the United States, you will shake Europe. Brothers, if you can't cut off oil, decrease your production or raise the price. Put on some pressure. No one is calling for armies or tanks or planes."
Hezbollah earlier condemned Israel's air strikes on Gaza, calling the attack a "criminal aggression" and said any country not working to stop the bloodshed was a partner in the violence. But it gave no signal that it was prepared to act against the Jewish state.
Many analysts suspect that Hezbollah, a powerful political and guerilla movement in Lebanon, is loathe to start a conflict with Israel right now. Israel has threatened to bomb the nuclear sites of the group's main patron Iran and its supply routes through neighbouring Syria may be at risk of being cut off by a bloody conflict that could topple its ally President Bashar al-Assad.
In 2006, Hezbollah fought Israel in a 34-day war in which 1200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed.