Hezbollah buries Qantar, vows retaliation on Israel
‘Death to Israel’
Thousands of people chanted “death to Israel” as Hezbollah fighters in military uniforms carried Qantar’s coffin, which was wrapped by the group’s yellow flag, to a Shi’ite Muslim cemetery in its south Beirut stronghold where he was laid to rest.
“We have no doubt or question that Israel is the one which assassinated Samir Qantar, its planes fired precision missiles on a residential apartment (he was in),” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech aired on the group’s own television channel.
“Samir is one of us, a commander of our resistance and it is our right to retaliate for his assassination in the place, time and way we see appropriate,” Hezbollah leader Nasrallah said. “We will exercise this right.”
RIGHT: Hezbollah’s Samir
Qantar was killed in Syria
A number of Syrians were also killed in the attack, he said.
Qantar was jailed in Israel for his part in a 1979 raid in Israel that killed four people. At that stage he was a member of a Palestinian militant group. After being repatriated to Lebanon in a 2008 prisoner swap with Hezbollah, Qantar then joined the group.
Reuters reported that Israel had welcomed Qantar’s death, saying he had been preparing attacks on it from Syrian soil, but stopped short of confirming responsibility for the air strike on Saturday in which he had been killed.
“We, in a firm and definite way, hold the Zionist enemy responsible for assassinating him,” Nasrallah said.
LEFT: People offer their condolences near the coffin of Lebanese Hezbollah militant leader Samir Qantar during his funeral in Beirut’s southern suburbs this week
The 54-year-old Qantar has kept a low public profile after Israel freed him. Hezbollah did not clarify what role he had played in Syria’s ongoing conflict, in which Hezbollah is fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad. But Syrian state media said he was involved in a major offensive earlier this year in Quneitra.
Israel took responsibility for a January air strike in Syria which killed six members of Hezbollah, including a commander and the son of the group’s late military chief, Imad Moughniyah, near the Golan Heights.
In a symbolic gesture at his funeral, Hezbollah fighters carrying Qantar’s coffin stopped by the grave of Moughniyah and pledged loyalty to Nasrallah.
A senior Hezbollah official, Hashem Safeieddine, said at the funeral: “If the Israelis think by killing Samir Qantar they have closed an account, then they are very mistaken because they know and will come to know that they have instead opened several more.”
- Hezbollah is a powerful Shi’ite militant movement based in southern Lebanon that Israel believes has many more, and more sophisticated, missiles than Hamas.