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Hezbollah leader tells Israel to brace for retaliation over Qantar's death
December 27, 2015 / 3:17 PM / 2 years ago

Hezbollah leader tells Israel to brace for retaliation over Qantar's death

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group said on Sunday that Israel miscalculated by killing prominent militant Samir Qantar in Syria last week, saying that retaliation for his death was inevitable, whatever the consequences.

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters via a screen during a commemoration service marking one week since the killing of Hezbollah militant leader Samir Qantar, in Beirut's southern suburbs, December 27, 2015. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, speaking in a ceremony to mark a week since Qantar’s death in a strike in a residential quarter of Damascus, said Israelis should brace themselves for a response either inside or outside Israel.

“The Israelis should be justifiably worried... They should be worried along the border, inside (Israel) and outside,” he said.

“The response is coming no matter what ... We cannot forgive the shedding of our mujahideen blood by the Zionists ... anywhere in the world,” he said. Israel has welcomed Qantar’s death, but has not confirmed it carried out the air strike that killed him.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Saturday Israel took seriously a possible retaliation for Qantar’s killing and accused Iran, Hezbollah’s backer, of trying to open “a terrorist front on the Golan Heights”.

Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gesture while they are listening to his speech via a screen during a commemoration service marking one week since the killing of Hezbollah militant leader Samir Qantar, in Beirut's southern suburbs, December 27, 2015. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

Yaalon said Hezbollah should be mindful of the 2006 Lebanon war, when Israel responded to a spate of cross-border attacks by the militant group with a large-scale ground, air and sea offensive.

Qantar was jailed in Israel for his part in a 1979 raid in Israel that killed four people when he was a member of a Palestinian militant group. Qantar was repatriated to Lebanon in 2008 in a prisoner swap with Hezbollah, which he then joined.

Zeinab Berjawi (R), the wife of Hezbollah militant leader Samir Qantar, sits next to the mother of Hezbollah's late military leader Imad Moughniyah during a commemoration service marking one week since the killing of Qantar, in Beirut's southern suburbs, December 27, 2015. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

Nasrallah who described Qantar as a “leader” in Hezbollah for the first time acknowledged that Qantar had played a key role in creating a “popular resistance” in Syria against what he said were Israeli designs on the Syrian Golan Heights.

Hezbollah is fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war. Syrian state media said Qantar was involved in a major offensive earlier this year in Quneitra, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Qantar’s growing military role in the strategic area had unnerved Israel, Nasrallah said.

Israel seized part of the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed it later.

Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Writing by Suleiman al-Khalidi; Editing by Ros Russell

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