BEIRUT (Reuters) - A defiant Hizbollah chief vowed on Wednesday to turn south Lebanon into a "graveyard" for invading Israeli troops, hours after the Jewish state ordered an expanded ground offensive.
"You won't be able to stay in our land, and if you come in, we'll force you out," said Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in a televised speech shown on Hizbollah's television station.
"We will turn our precious southern land into a graveyard for the invading Zionists."
Nasrallah said four weeks of Israeli bombardment had not weakened the guerrilla group's rocket capabilities and called on the Arab residents of Haifa to quit the Israeli city to avoid being hurt by its barrages.
Israel decided on Wednesday to expand its ground offensive in Lebanon, increasing pressure on major powers struggling to win agreement on a United Nations resolution to end the war.
Israeli troops thrust deeper into Lebanon and 11 Israeli soldiers were reported killed in fierce clashes with Hizbollah.
Nasrallah, whose group waged guerrilla attacks instrumental in ending Israel's 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, said that the United States was trying to impose Israeli demands on Lebanon through the draft resolution.
"The least you can say about this resolution is that it is unjust and oppressive and gives the Israelis more than they wanted and demanded," Nasrallah said.
"The response to the Lebanese consensus and seven-point plan was this draft ... to give the Israelis politically and through diplomatic pressure what they were unable to gain by fighting."
Lebanon has presented a seven-point plan that demands the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from south Lebanon, the deployment of U.N. and Lebanese forces in the south, the return of the displaced and the disarmament of Hizbollah.
Nasrallah said the Shi'ite Muslim group supported a unanimous decision by the Lebanese government, which includes a Hizbollah minister, to deploy 15,000 troops to the border if that aided Lebanon's calls for the resolution to be amended.
Hizbollah, which largely controls Lebanon's southern border with Israel, has long resisted international pressure on Lebanon to deploy the Lebanese army to the south instead.
"If everyone sees that deploying the army will help find a way out politically that would result in the halting of aggression ... this for us is a national and honourable way out," he said.
"We want an end to all the aggression but if there must be a showdown, then we welcome a showdown in the field."
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