Hassan Nasrallah: Iraqi Islamic resistance launched cruise missile at Haifa

Hassan Nasrallah: Iraqi Islamic resistance launched cruise missile at Haifa
Nasrallah claimed that the Islamic resistance in Iraq launched a cruise missile at Haifa on Sunday, causing an explosion in the port city.
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No one was injured in the explosion, which Israeli officials claim was the result of a machine malfunction. [Getty]

The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, claimed during a Sunday speech that an Iraqi cruise missile hit the Israeli port city of Haifa earlier that day, causing an explosion. In contrast, Israeli authorities claimed a machine malfunction at a factory caused the explosion.

Videos of the explosion show a plume of black smoke billowing from an industrial centre in Haifa as Israeli media reported no one was injured.

"The Islamic Resistance in Iraq struck Haifa with a cruise missile, but the Israeli occupation kept the issue a secret," Nasrallah said on Sunday, 14 January. 

The Israeli Protection Ministry said the explosion was caused by a "breakdown of a polyethene machine at the Carmel Olefins factory in Haifa."

The New Arab contacted several Iraqi militia leaders, but they refrained from denying or confirming the news or delving into its details due to security considerations associated with identifying perpetrators of these acts to Iraqi security agencies and international entities.

However, in announcements on the X platform, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq - the moniker for an alliance of various Iraqi Shia militias aligned to Iran - mentioned attacking an Israeli target near the Jordan River and attacking Eilat on Friday, 12 January but did not name Haifa directly. 

Nasrallah has previously claimed that Israel is understating the number of human and physical losses from its military operations in Gaza and on the Lebanese border. Israel has claimed that 186 soldiers have been killed and 1,099 have been injured, while Nasrallah claims that the number of casualties for Israel is in "the thousands".

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Nasrallah's claim comes as Iranian allies across the region are increasingly coming into confrontation with the US and Israel. The so-called "axis of resistance" has been fighting "in solidarity" with Hamas since the latter group attacked Israeli military bases and settlements within "the Gaza envelope" on 7 October.

Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria have launched dozens of strikes against US forces in both countries. At the same time, the US and the UK targeted several cities in Yemen in response to the Yemeni Houthis blocking shipping lanes in the Red Sea against ships heading to Israel.

Iraqi militias also reportedly have missiles with the capacity to hit Israel, with the Iraqi army releasing pictures of an Iranian Quds-2 cruise missile, which has a range of 800 kilometres.

Hezbollah and Israel have been engaged in clashes along their shared border, with the intensity and depth of strikes steadily escalating between the two countries over the last three months.

Two Israeli assassinations in Lebanon in early January – top Hamas official Salah al-Arouri in Beirut and senior Hezbollah commander Wissam al-Tawil in southern Lebanon – have further raised tensions.

Across the region, Iranian-allied militias in Iraq and Yemen, as well as Hezbollah, have vowed to continue their respective military action until Israel stops its military operation in Gaza.

Israel's military operation killed more than 24,000 Palestinians in Gaza, the majority of whom are women and children.

"The US and the UK, which approached the region, will hear one stance in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq: Stop the war on Gaza," Nasrallah said.