In a recent meeting, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah reportedly rejected a German envoy’s attempts to convince him not to attack Israel in retaliation for the December 19 assassination, attributed to Israel, of terrorist Samir Kuntar.
The German official met with Nasrallah in recent days and warned him that Israel’s response to such an attack would be severe, Israel Radio reported Thursday. Nasrallah was said to have answered that the decision to carry out a revenge attack had already been made and that there would be no turning back, no matter the price.
On Sunday, Nasrallah warned that a retaliation for Kuntar’s assassination would “inevitably come.”
“The Israelis are worried and they should be worried along the border, inside Israel and outside of it,” he was quoted as saying by Lebanese news site Naharnet. “The Israelis are hiding like rats along the border.”
Nasrallah added that Hezbollah was not afraid of Israeli threats of a crushing response to any potential attack, adding that the terror group “cannot tolerate that the blood of our jihadist fighters and brothers be shed anywhere in this world.”
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot fired back at the terror group Monday, promising swift retaliation and “harsh results.”
Kuntar was killed in an airstrike on a building outside Damascus on December 19. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Nasrallah alleged that Israel may have coordinated the hit with Syrian rebel “terrorists” operating in the area. The Assad regime also blamed “terrorist groups” for the strike.
There was no official Israeli confirmation of the attack, although officials expressed satisfaction over Kuntar’s death. Kuntar was with a group of commanders from different terrorist groups that were planning attacks on Israel, unsourced Israeli reports said.
A Lebanese Druze, Kuntar became infamous for a brutal 1979 raid from Lebanon in which he helped kidnap an Israeli family from Nahariya, then smashed the head of a four-year-old Israeli girl, Einat Haran, with his rifle butt, killing her. Three other Israelis, including her father, Danny Haran, were killed in the attack. Kuntar was 16 at the time, a member of the Palestine Liberation Front.
He spent 29 years in an Israeli prison before being traded to Hezbollah in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. After that, he took on a senior role in the group, was honored by then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and by Syrian President Bashar Assad, and helped to organize Syrian Druze on the Golan Heights and elsewhere into terror cells charged with carrying out attacks against Israel.
Syrian media said that among the dead in the strike was also Farhan Shaalan, a commander in the Syrian anti-Israel resistance group founded by Kuntar and others. Those reports said that senior Hezbollah members were also present in the building at the time of the attack.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel was involved in a “world war” against two major streams of Islamic extremists and must deal with the threats they pose.
“Nobody said that the attacks would stop when a Jewish state arose,” the prime minister said at a President’s Residence ceremony to honor outstanding officials in the Mossad intelligence agency, adding, “All our enemies should know that we will react with force against any attack against us.”
The comments came amid reports that another extremist group, the Shuhda al-Yarmouk off-shoot of the Islamic State, had taken control of an area near the Israeli-Syrian border and may be planning to carry out large-scale terror attacks against Israel.
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