Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah vows to focus on Palestine

As thousands rally in Beirut against Trump's Jerusalem move, Hassan Nasrallah vows to renew focus on Palestinian cause.

Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah

The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah has said his group and its allies in the region would renew their focus on the Palestinian cause after what he called their victories elsewhere in the region.

Hassan Nasrallah called on Hezbollah's allies on Monday to put in place a united strategy "in the field" to confront Israel.

His speech came as thousands of Hezbollah supporters demonstrated in Beirut, chanting "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!" in protest against President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese Shia political bloc with a powerful military wing, has been fighting in Syria alongside regional allies to defeat both anti-government rebels and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

Protesters marched through Hezbollah's south Beirut bastion, carrying banners reading "Jerusalem, Eternal Capital of Palestine" and "Jerusalem is Ouds".

Nasrallah said he hoped the "foolish [US] decision" would mark the "beginning of the end" of Israel.

Days of protest

Nasrallah had called for the demonstration last week after Trump made his announcement in a televised speech on December 6.

The move has been heavily denounced and has prompted days of protest across the Middle East and elsewhere.

Monday's rally came a day after a violent protest outside the US embassy in Beirut, where security forces fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters who pelted them with stones.

The demonstrators were barely hundreds of metres from the embassy.

Lebanon is home to over 450,000 Palestinian refugees, who make up nearly 10 percent of the country's population.

Many are the descendants of those who fled after the creation of Israel in 1948.

Our correspondent said Trump's decision has been a gift to Hezbollah, which had been drawing flak from its opponents for its intervention in Syria's conflict.

The battle-hardened Hezbollah fighters played a key role in turning the tide of Syria's war in favour of President Bashar al-Assad, a key Iran ally.

Hezbollah is believed to have a massive arsenal of rockets capable of hitting much of Israel's territory.

Israel fought a war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 120 Israelis, most of them soldiers.

Israel withdrew its forces from southern Lebanon in 2000, ending a 22-year occupation, but the two countries remain technically at war and there have been occasional skirmishes on the border.

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