Nasrallah: We would have reconsidered
IslamOnline.net & News Agencies
"These are our people, brothers and sons. We are not a mafia or mercenaries," Nasrallah said in an interview with the Lebanese private television station NTV.
"Neither myself nor any of the other Hizbullah leaders nor even the Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails would have accepted this," he added.
"This was not the first time that we captured Israeli soldiers nor was it the first time we inflicted heavy losses on the Israeli army. Israel never responded like it did this time," Nasrallah recalled.
He there were no signs that Israel would launch a war at the peak of its thriving tourism season.
Hizbullah is holding two Israeli soldiers who were captured during a cross-border operation on July 12.
A 33-day Israeli onslaught claimed the lives of at least 1,287 Lebanese, nearly all civilians, and wounded 4,054 others.
Nasrallah has vowed to rebuild no less than 15,000 homes demolished by the Israeli military juggernaut and house hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by the war.
Nasrallah revealed ongoing contacts to broker a prisoner swap between Hizbullah and Israel.
"Negotiations on a prisoner exchange began recently."
He said Lebanon's parliament speaker Nabih Berri was acting as an intermediary for Hizbullah in the negotiations, adding that Italy and the UN singled a desire to get involved in the talks.
During a telephone conversation Sunday with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said "the most important thing for Israel was the immediate freeing" of the soldiers seized by Hizbullah.
Olmert has appointed Ofer Dekel, the former deputy head of Israel's internal security service Shin Bet, to oversee efforts to return the prisoners.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni hinted on August 13 that Israel would negotiate a prisoner swap with Hizbullah.
"We will have to enter a process which means negotiations" she said.
UN Troops Welcome
Nasrallah welcomed the deployment of UN troops in southern Lebanon, saying his resistance group would have no problem with that.
"We have no problem with UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon) because its mission is not aimed at disarming Hizbullah," Nasrallah said in his second interview since the UN-brokered August 14 ceasefire.
He stressed that if the Lebanese army encountered armed people in the south, it had the right to seize the weapons and question the person according to the law.
"If the Lebanese army encounters any armed person, it has the right to confiscate their weapons," he said.
The deployment of UN troops to reinforce the UNIFIL mission is expected to take place within a week.
Nasrallah's interview came on the eve of a visit to Beirut by Annan, who was to discuss with Lebanese leaders the UN deployment and related security matters.
Nasrallah said he would welcome a meeting with Annan, though security concerns would make it almost impossible.
The Hizbullah leader is high on Israel's hit list.
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