In a speech on Monday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened Israel with revenge over the killing of terrorist Samir Kuntar in an air strike in Syria on Saturday.
“Samir is one of us and a commander of our resistance and it is our right to retaliate for his assassination in the place, time and a way we see appropriate.
We will exercise this right, God willing,” he said.
“We have no doubt or question that Israel is the one which assassinated Samir Kuntar, its planes fired precise missiles on an apartment [he was in],” Nasrallah said in a speech aired on the group’s al-Manar TV station.
A number of Syrians were also killed in the attack.
“We, in a firm and definite way, hold the Zionist enemy responsible for assassinating him,” Nasrallah said.
“Samir Kuntar’s blood will give the Palestinian youth more determination,” said Nasrallah, according to al-Manar’s website, referring to the ongoing terrorism in Israel.
Nasrallah also appeared to respond to the increasing of US sanctions on Hezbollah by US President Barack Obama on Friday, saying that the US has had “us on the list of terrorism since 1995, and for decades they have tried to impose this label on us, but they failed.”
By targeting us, he continued, it assures “that we are on the right track. It is our pride to be the enemies of America and Israel,” he said according to al-Manar.
The Lebanese terrorist group said earlier on Monday that Israel would be held accountable for killing Kuntar, and accorded him an elaborate funeral of the kind reserved for its top commanders.
Thousands of people chanted “Death to Israel” as Hezbollah fighters in military uniforms carried Kuntar’s coffin to a Shi’ite Muslim cemetery in its south Beirut stronghold where he was laid to rest.
“If the Israelis think that by killing Samir Kuntar 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 that can’t be easily closed,” Hashem Safeieddine, a senior official in the powerful Shi’ite movement said at the funeral.
Kuntar, born in 1962, was convicted of perpetrating a notorious attack in 1979 when he landed in Nahariya with three other terrorists on a boat from Lebanon, shot and killed a policeman, then killed Smadar Haran-Kaiser’s husband, Danny Haran, and their four-year-old daughter, Einat.
Their daughter Yael, a toddler, also perished, leaving Haran-Kaiser as sole family survivor.
Kuntar was repatriated to Lebanon in 2008 in a prisoner swap with Hezbollah, which he then joined.
Israel welcomed his death, saying he had been preparing attacks on it from Syrian soil, but stopped short of confirming responsibility for the air strike on Saturday that killed him.
Hezbollah did not say what role Kuntar played in Syria’s ongoing conflict, in which Hezbollah is fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad.
But Syrian state media said he was involved in a major offensive earlier this year in Quneitra, on the Syrian border of the Golan Heights.
In January, according to foreign media, an Israeli air strike in Syria killed six members of Hezbollah, including a commander and the son of its late military chief, Imad Moughniyah, near the Golan Heights.
In a symbolic gesture at Monday’s funeral, Hezbollah fighters carrying Kuntar’s coffin stopped by the grave of Moughniyah, where they took the group’s official oath and pledged loyalty to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Meanwhile, a group claiming to be from the Free Syrian Army, claimed in a YouTube video on Monday that it, and not Israel, killed Kuntar.