BEIRUT — A Hezbollah government minister yesterday would not confirm or deny Israeli allegations that the militant Lebanese group has acquired Scud missiles.
In the first Hezbollah comment on the Israeli charges, Minister Hussein Haj Hassan said the group was always arming and preparing itself but, “what we have is not their business.’’
Israeli defense officials have said they believe Hezbollah has obtained Scud missiles capable of hitting targets anywhere in Israel.
Israel’s President Shimon Peres earlier this week directly accused Damascus of providing the weapons.
Israel has not offered proof to back up the assertion, and Syria’s Foreign Ministry strongly denied the charge, saying it “believes that Israel aims through these claims to further strain the atmosphere in the region.’’
It added that Israel could be setting the stage for a possible “aggression in order to run away from the requirements of a just and comprehensive peace.’’
Haj Hassan also told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV yesterday that Israel possessed all kinds of weapons, including nuclear warheads.
“It’s only natural for Lebanon to have the means to defend itself against an Israeli attack,’’ he said.
There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials.
Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, has said his militants have more than 30,000 rockets and are capable of hitting anywhere in Israel.
Those assertions match Israeli intelligence assessments.
Also yesterday, about 20 villagers from the southern Lebanese town of Abbasiyeh removed a barbed wire that was set up three days earlier by Israeli troops south of the Blue Line, which separates Israeli and Lebanese forces.
A spokesman for Israel’s armed forces said the military is “aware of the demonstration but unaware of any damage caused to the fence.’’ He would not comment further.
The demonstration was a protest against the fence, placed by the Israelis earlier this week. Some Lebanese said the Blue Line is not accurate and had given parts of Lebanon to Israel.