Nasrallah Comes Out of Hiding for Speech

BEIRUT (Reuters) -

Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah emerged from hiding on Friday to deliver his first major speech in years, addressing a rally in his southern Beirut stronghold in support of the Palestinians.

“Israel poses a danger on all people of this region … including Lebanon, and removing it is a Lebanese national interest,” Nasrallah told hundreds of supporters in his half-hour speech.

The Shiite cleric has lived mainly in the shadows, fearing assassination, since the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

His last major speech came a month after that conflict, when he claimed victory in front of thousands of supporters. Since then, he has made occasional and brief public appearances, most recently last September, but no lengthy public address.

Security was heightened in the southern Beirut suburb where Nasrallah spoke, with gunmen stationed at intersections leading to the hall where he delivered his address. Buses were parked across the streets to prevent access to all but pedestrians.

The precautions were not academic. A huge car bomb hit the same Beirut district a month ago, two blocks from where Nasrallah was speaking, wounding 53 people.