An Iranian official on Sunday denounced as a “Zionist lie” media reports claiming Hezbollah terror group leader Hassan Nasrallah has been left in critical condition following a heart attack brought on by cancer.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s parliamentary director for international affairs, tweeted a denial of Hebrew media reports, which had begun circulating the day before and were largely based on claims by a Lebanese journalist.
“Zionist allegations that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has a disease and has suffered a heart attack are the big lie of the New Year,” Amir-Abdollahian wrote. “The day in which Nasrallah and Palestinian resistance leaders pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque [on the Temple Mount] after it has been cleansed of Zionist impurity will inevitably come.”
On Saturday, Europe-based Lebanese journalist Jerry Maher tweeted that unnamed intelligence sources had confirmed Nasrallah was taken to the hospital in Beirut in critical condition, and that he has been battling cancer for years.
Maher posted Twitter updates over the weekend including claims that Hezbollah rejected a suggestion for Nasrallah to be moved to the Syrian capital Damascus for treatment by Russian and Iranian doctors.
Some Hebrew media reports said that Nasrallah had suffered a heart attack.
Maher noted that the Hezbollah leader has not been seen for weeks.
In the past, claims of Nasrallah’s death or severe illness have been countered by the publication of videos in which he was shown commenting on current affairs.
Nasrallah, 58, took over the Iran-backed Hezbollah group after its previous leader was killed in a 1992 targeted assassination by Israeli helicopters on his convoy.
As a precaution against a repeat of the incident, Nasrallah’s movements are shrouded in mystery with few public appearances. The Hezbollah leader frequently releases videos or live television broadcasts.
In his speeches, Nasrallah often makes threats to attack Israel. Hezbollah has accumulated an arsenal of hundreds of thousands of ground attack rockets, and is considered to be a more powerful military force than the Lebanese army.
Hezbollah is designated a terror organization, either entirely or partly, by Israel, the United States, the European Union and other countries.
Also Sunday, Israel declared the end of IDF Operation Northern Shield, an engineering operation to locate and destroy tunnels its says were dug under the border by Hezbollah for the purpose of carrying out a major terror assault against the country.
The operation began on December 2, 2018, and since then the IDF said it found six such attack tunnels. Nasrallah has not made any public comments about the tunnels or Israel’s operation to destroy them.