Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday said his party stands ready for military confrontation with Israel but downplayed the probability of war in the near future.
"We do not think there will be a new Israeli war on Lebanon in the near future," he told a crowd of thousands gathered in Beirut's southern suburb, a stronghold of the Shiite group, to mark the third anniversary of the end of the summer war with Israel.
"Today we are in a better situation than we were three years ago," he said, referring to Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas movement.
"We do not want war, but we are not afraid of it and we say to you: if you bomb Beirut or its suburb, we will bomb Tel Aviv," Nasrallah said in the televised speech, adding that Hezbollah now has the capacity to strike any area in Israel.
Israel's 33-day war with Hezbollah in the summer of 2006 resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 Lebanese civilians, a third of them children, as well as 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
The conflict destroyed much of the country's major infrastructure and targeted Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon and the southern suburb of Beirut before ending with a U.N.-brokered ceasefire on Aug. 14, 2006.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the Lebanese government would be held responsible for any new attacks against Israel coming from its territory if the Shiite group was included in the cabinet.
But Nasrallah said Netanyahu's warnings only amounted to "psychological warfare" and served to sow discord among Lebanese parties and hinder the formation of a cabinet.
Seven weeks after the start of negotiations on a new Lebanese government, rival parties agreed on the number of ministers each political bloc will have but still disagree over who will get such key portfolios as foreign affairs, finance, interior and telecommunications.