February 3, 2009 / 1:23 PM / 9 years ago

Israel warns Lebanon over Hezbollah man's memorial

JERUSALEM, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Bracing for reprisals a year after the assassination of Hezbollah’s military mastermind, Israel said on Tuesday it would hold Lebanon responsible for any such attacks by the guerrilla group.

Hezbollah blamed Israel for the Feb. 12, 2007 car bombing that killed Imad Moughniyeh in Damascus, and vowed revenge.

Israel, which denied involvement in Moughniyeh’s death, said Hezbollah could be planning to retaliate covertly rather than disrupt a military entente in place since the 2006 Lebanon war.

In September, Israel said it had foiled several Hezbollah attempts to abduct its citizens abroad, and last week it issued a new travel advisory ahead of the assassination’s anniversary.

"Hezbollah is not just a terrorist organisation cavorting in the hills," Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said during a tour of the Lebanese border, within view of the Iranian-and Syrian-backed Shiite militia’s heartland.

"It also sits around the cabinet table in Beirut, with a sufficient number of ministers to decide on how to act, and therefore the Lebanese government bears overall responsibility.

"Any attempt to strike at Israel will meet with a response. There is no need to elaborate," he said.

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, last week declined to comment on whether Israel had indeed thwarted attacks by his group abroad. But he said Hezbollah’s revenge was "yet ahead". (Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)

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