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Last Updated: Friday, 22 February 2008, 18:08 GMT
Israel to vanish, says Hezbollah
Hezbollah supporters in southern Beirut
Thousands gathered for the Hezbollah rally in southern Beirut
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has told thousands of supporters at a rally in Lebanon that the disappearance of Israel is inevitable.

"The presence of Israel is but temporary and cannot go on in the region," he told the Beirut rally.

Speaking by video link, he again hinted at revenge for the killing of a senior Hezbollah commander in Syria.

Hezbollah accuses Israel of being behind the death of Imad Mughniyeh, although Israel denies involvement.

Hezbollah - or the Party of God - is a powerful political and military organisation in Lebanon made up mainly of Shia Muslims.

'New victory'

Mughniyeh died in a car bombing in Damascus on 12 February. He was wanted by the United States and Israel for a series of attacks on Western and Israeli targets in the 1980s and 1990s that left hundreds dead.

The rally in a mainly Shia district of southern Beirut was staged to mourn Mughniyeh and remember other militants killed, including Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Abbas al-Musawi, who died in an Israeli helicopter strike in 1992 in southern Lebanon.

Nasrallah addresses supporters in southern Beirut
Hassan Nasrallah addressed supporters via a giant video screen

"I swear by God that your blood will not have been spilled in vain", Sheikh Nasrallah said in tribute to Mughniyeh.

Sheikh Nasrallah accused Israel of preparing for war against Lebanon, but said Hezbollah would hit back with rocket attacks.

"We are ready for a confrontation and we are ready to defend and ready to create a new victory for us, God willing", he said.

It is the second time in recent days that Sheikh Nasrallah has threatened Israel. At Mughniyeh's funeral, he warned of "open war".

Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of others prompted Israel to launch a month-long war in Lebanon in 2006.

More than 1,000 Lebanese and 160 Israelis died in the conflict. It was described as a grave and serious failure by an Israeli government appointed commission in January.

The Hezbollah rally came as Lebanon remains politically deadlocked.

There have been more than a dozen attempts to elect a president since November, but the governing majority, backed by the West, and the Hezbollah-led opposition have been unable to reach agreement.

Parliament is scheduled to reconvene next week in another attempt to choose a head of state.

SEE ALSO
Israel tightens security amid threats
22 Feb 08 |  Middle East
Syria 'to name Mughniyeh killer'
15 Feb 08 |  Middle East
Hezbollah chief threatens Israel
14 Feb 08 |  Middle East
Rival events reveal Lebanon divisions
14 Feb 08 |  Middle East
Profile: Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
13 Jul 06 |  Special Reports
Quick guide: Hezbollah
22 Aug 06 |  Middle East

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