US President Donald Trump's bombshell to unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital has forced the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, to shift focus on the Israel-Palestine conflict from the battleground of the conflict-torn Syria.
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Shia organisation, addressed a massive rally via a video-link in Beirut on Monday, 11 December, during which thousands of protesters gathered to demonstrate against the Trump's decision. Hezbollah's emphatic call comes shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow's troops are being withdrawn from Syria after a lengthy military campaign.
The Hezbollah supporters, with some estimates putting the numbers as tens of thousands, were chanting slogans "death to America" and "death to Israel" at the demonstrations. There were also banners which read "Jerusalem, Eternal Capital of Palestine" and "Jerusalem is Ours" at the rally in Hezbollah's stronghold in Beirut. The demonstrations took place just a day after violent protests outside the American diplomatic mission in Lebanon.
"We will never abandon Jerusalem," declared Nasrallah as his face was beamed on massive screens in the Lebanese capital. He exhorted Hezbollah's allies to come up with a united strategy "in the field" in order to confront Israel.
Nasrallah said the Hezbollah's focus is now being sharpened towards Jerusalem in support of Palestine following its "victories" elsewhere in the region, meaning Syria. Hezbollah, a powerful Shia force in Lebanon which is also heavily armed, has been fighting in favour of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"All Arab peoples must repeat with the Palestinian people: 'We will be millions of martyrs to sacrifice for Jerusalem'," said the Hezbollah leader. "Trump's decision on al-Quds [Arabic name for Jerusalem] will be the beginning of the end of Israel."
Nasrallah went on: "If you hold on to al-Quds as the everlasting capital of Palestine, neither Trump nor anyone else can do anything other than that. The whole nation must stand in the face of this American threat."
The Iran-backed Hezbollah – considered a terrorist organisation by the US, Israel and several Sunni states – has been involved in armed conflict with Israel on more than one occasion in the past. Hezbollah was among several factions which immediately called for a Palestinian intifada, or uprising, soon after the Trump's announcement of formally recognising the ancient city of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.