Palestinian and Iranian media have picked up on an unconfirmed story that the IDF recently came close to assassinating Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut but called off the missile strike due to the terror leader’s heavy security arrangements.
Israel’s Channel 2 on Monday also cited the report in the Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraph that claimed a logistic problem prevented the mission from going ahead. The De Telegraph report, based an unnamed European security expert, said the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit planned to hit Nasrallah as he gave a public address during the Ashura religious celebrations earlier this month.
The plan was to fire a pinpoint accurate missile fitted with a small explosive charge at Nasrallah during his speech, given to a crowd in southern Beirut. According to the Iranian FARS News Agency, an unmanned drone was to launch the missile and the intention was to make the attack appear to be a suicide bombing rather than an airstrike.
However, the extensive security protecting Nasrallah supposedly caused difficulties and the mission was called off.
In his speech, made on November 3 during a rare public appearance in the Lebanese capital’s southern suburbs, Nasrallah addressed thousands of his supporters in the lead-up to the Shiite Ashura commemorations. He had not appeared in public since July when he attended a rally to show support for the Gaza Strip. It was his sixth since his group fought Israel in 2006.
Nasrallah spoke about the civil war raging in neighboring Syria, internal Lebanese politics, and Iranian support for the Lebanese Army. Hezbollah’s fighters also clashed with the jihadists in eastern Lebanon in October, and its strongholds have come under repeated bomb attacks over its involvement in the Syrian conflict.
The next day, during a televised address to his supporters, Nasrallah boasted that Hezbollah’s rockets could hit anywhere in Israel and the Lebanese terror group is not afraid to fight Israel in another war.
Hezbollah “is fully ready in southern Lebanon,” Nasrallah said, addressing via video thousands of Lebanese Shiites commemorating the Ashura holiday in southern Beirut, Naharnet reported.
He said the group’s activities fighting in support of the Syrian regime had not affected its battle readiness. Hezbollah’s campaigns in Syria has cost the group over 1,000 fighters, according to some reports. The Hezbollah secretary-general also pledged that the Shiite organization’s rockets would force Israel to close its sea ports and main airport in the next conflict.
Nasrallah’s address came before the peak of Ashura, a festival that marks the killing of Imam Hussein, one of the most revered figures of Shiite Islam and grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.