President Michel Aoun said that his country ‘Lebanon’ would not attack Israel unless it was attacked first. Aoun made the remarks in an exclusive interview conducted this week with French daily Le Figaro. He said, “Hezbollah doesn’t play a military role inside Lebanon, and doesn’t carry out provocations along the border with Israeli occupied territories.” Hezbollah is a Lebanese Shia militia and political force that enjoys much influence, especially in Shia-majority Southern Lebanon.
Aoun also said the group’s sizeable weapons arsenal “is linked to the regional situation, especially the conflict in neighboring Syria”.
Aoun told Le Figaro, “Hezbollah’s support base constitutes more than one-third of the Lebanese people,” adding that “international pressure” on the group was “increasing”. He added, “Certain parties hope to square political accounts with Hezbollah after failing to do so militarily,” pointing out that Hezbollah had defeated Israel in three separate military conflicts in 1993, 1996 and 2006.
He continues, “Unfortunately, foreign public opinion is determined to portray Hezbollah as the enemy.”
He said, Asked whether Southern Lebanon could be used in a theoretical confrontation between Iran and Israel, Aoun merely said: “No.”
The president also added, “If there is no Israeli attack on Lebanon, then not a single gunshot will be fired [at Israel] from Lebanese soil.”
“But in the event of an attack on Lebanon, we have the right to defend ourselves,” he said.