BEIRUT – Hezbollah's weapons are still necessary to defend the country despite Israel's decision to pull out of a disputed border village, a senior official with the group said Saturday.
The comments of Hussein Khalil, the political adviser to Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, came three days after Israel announced its decision to withdraw from the northern half of Ghajar.
When Israel ended its 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, U.N. surveyors split the village between Lebanon and the Israeli-controlled Golan. Israel took back the village's northern half after its the 2006 war with Hezbollah.
Khalil said that even if Israel pulled out the village, it is still occupying the disputed Chebaa Farms and Kfar Chouba Hills captured from Syria four decades ago.
"The resistance and its weapons are still a national need to liberate remaining occupied Lebanese territories especially Chebaa Farms and Kfar Chouba Hills," Khalil told reporters after meeting Christian leader Michel Aoun, a strong ally of Hezbollah.
Israel seized Chebaa Farms and Kfar Chouba Hills from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war. Lebanon and Syria claim it is Lebanese territory. But a U.N.-drawn border between Israel and Lebanon marks it as Syrian land under Israeli occupation.
Hezbollah cites the Israeli presence there as justification for its continuing armed "resistance" against Israel.
Backed by Iran and Syria, the well equipped group is the strongest armed force in the country and fired some 4,000 rockets into Israel during the 34-day war in 2006.