Hezbollah deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem has warned Israel that the assassination of any Hezbollah operative in Syria cannot go unpunished.
“The assassination of the martyr Samir al-Kuntar is part of Israel’s attempt to create new rules of engagement and to give the impression that killing operations in Syria can go without a response,” Hezbollah’s no.2 said in an interview.
Tensions surged between Israel and Hezbollah in recent days after the party accused Israel’s air force of carrying out a raid that killed Kuntar near Damascus.
On Sunday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah reiterated a pledge that his group will retaliate to the assassination. “The retaliation to Samir’s assassination will inevitably come,” Nasrallah vowed, noting that the timing and place of the response is now in the hands of Hezbollah’s fighters and military commanders.
Qassem noted that Israel “has not directly assassinated any Hezbollah cadre or figure inside Lebanon since 2006 because it knows that such a move might blow up the situation.”
“They thought that bombing in Syria might not push Hezbollah to retaliate out of fear of possible repercussions … but we responded in the occupied Shebaa Farms in Lebanon” in January 2008, in the wake of the assassination of Hezbollah’s top operative Jihad Mughniyeh and five other Hezbollah members.
Hezbollah played a key role in Kuntar’s release from prison after he had spent nearly 30 years in Israeli jails, becoming known as the ‘Dean of Lebanese Prisoners’ .
Shortly after his release, Kuntar joined Hezbollah.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Kuntar became “head of the Syrian Resistance for the Liberation of the Golan, ” which was occupied by Israel during the six day war in 1967.
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