TEHRAN, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Hezbollah is entitled to respond to repeated and persistent military threats from Israel, said Iranian political leader Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Border tensions between Lebanon and Israel escalated in 2009, with both sides blaming the other for violating the terms of a U.N.-brokered cease-fire in 2006.
The tensions carried into 2010. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah in a fiery speech last week warned Israel that his guerrillas would strike if provoked.
Samir Gaegea, who leads the pro-Western Lebanese Forces political party, blasted Nasrallah for assuming he had "the right to decide" matters of Lebanese defense.
Rafsanjani, for his part, said Nasrallah was justified to speak in support of the security interests of the Lebanese people, Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency reports.
"They claim that Nasrallah was not entitled to threaten Israel through Lebanon which has a specific sovereign and governing structure," he said. "But the fact is that Israelis had threatened Hezbollah and Nasrallah made the remarks in response to their threats."
Hezbollah secured the right to maintain an armed resistance when it nabbed two Cabinet seats, agriculture and administrative reform, following Lebanese parliamentary election in 2009.