The Hezbollah leader’s statement was issued after the first exchange of fire between Israel and Lebanese groups in years.
The head of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, promised that Israel will respond “appropriately and proportionately” to any airstrikes in Lebanon following the outbreak of conflict in its surroundings.
Israel carried out its first air strike on Lebanese territory in years on Thursday, prompting Hezbollah Rocket Return to Israel the next day.
“Our response is related to the Israeli attack in southern Lebanon for the first time in 15 years,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Saturday before the anniversary of the end of the war with Israel in 2006.
“We want to tell the enemy…Any air strikes by the Israeli Air Force against Lebanon will inevitably elicit a response, albeit in an appropriate and proportionate manner, because we want to serve the protection of our country,” he added.
Nasrallah described the air strikes this week as a “very dangerous development” but said Hezbollah does not want war.
He said: “We are not looking for war, nor do we want to go to war, but we are ready,” if necessary, he responded to similar comments from Israel this week.
Before Thursday, the last Israeli airstrike against Lebanon dates back to 2014, when warplanes attacked territory near the Syrian border.
Hezbollah fired rockets at Israeli positions on Friday morning, triggering retaliatory shelling by Israel, prompting UN peacekeepers to warn “the situation is very dangerous.”
But Israel subsequently stated that it “does not want to escalate to a full-scale war.”
The United States on Friday urged the Lebanese government to prevent Hezbollah from launching rockets into Israel.
The 33-day conflict in the summer of 2006 killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, most of them civilians, and 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers.
It ended on August 14, 2006 with a ceasefire agreement supported by the United Nations, and the Lebanese army deployed along the border area.
Hezbollah was the only party in Lebanon that did not disarm after the 1975-1990 civil war.
It has long been a target of U.S. sanctions and has been blacklisted as a “terrorist” organization, but the Shia organization is also a powerful political participant and holds a seat in the Lebanese parliament.