Hezbollah unveils Soleimani statue at Israeli border

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah: Soleimani’s death will speed up liberation of “Palestine”

WOMEN HOLD pictures of Iranian Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani during a funeral procession and burial at his hometown in Kerman (photo credit: MEHDI BOLOURIAN/FARS NEWS AGENCY/WANA (WEST ASIA N)
WOMEN HOLD pictures of Iranian Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani during a funeral procession and burial at his hometown in Kerman
(photo credit: MEHDI BOLOURIAN/FARS NEWS AGENCY/WANA (WEST ASIA N)
Hezbollah unveiled a statue of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in southern Lebanon on Saturday, with hundreds attending the event.
Hezbollah has festooned part of the town of Maroun al-Ras with observation decks so people can peer into Israel. The Soleimani statue is supposed to underpin Hezbollah's claim that the "liberation Palestine" will come soon.

The statue, even though some allege it is just a giant heavy-duty cardboard cut-out, is controversial in Lebanon and is a reminder of the power of Hezbollah and its close links to Iran. Senior officials in Iran have made numerous threats to attack Israel or destroy “the Zionists” in the last week. Iran’s regime views Israel and the US as closely linked and says its “axis of resistance” is designed to defeat both countries.
Soleimani was a key figure in Iran’s war on Israel. He gave an interview last year where he boasted of helping Hezbollah in the 2006 war against Israel. Iran has been transferring precision-guided munitions to Lebanon to help Hezbollah with guidance on its rockets. Israel has carried out airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria, and over the last year has increasingly warned about Soleimani’s threats. The US killed Soleimani and a pro-Iranian Iraqi militia leader in a January 3 airstrike. It was the 40th day after Soleimani’s death over the weekend, and Hezbollah appears to have timed the statue with the auspicious day.
In Lebanon, some on social media critiqued the statue. Pro-Iranian social media heralded the statue, however, noting the Palestinian flags and saying it is pointing toward “Quds,” or Jerusalem. Iran has often spoken about liberating Jerusalem, and holds an annual al-Quds Day. Maroun al-Ras has been used by Hezbollah to film Israel. During clashes last year, Hezbollah’s Al-Manar network filmed a clash with the IDF and broadcast it in September.
The unveiling of the Soleimani statue has gained traction on Lebanese and some Iranian media. Irib News broadcasted the event. Lebanese media recently released rumors that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah visited Soleimani’s grave in Iran. On February 15, Nasrallah gave a speech saying Soleimani’s death has helped the Islamic community realize the US is the “greatest Satan.” He said that over the last 20 years, Soleimani was one of the few people Nasrallah genuinely loved as a brother. “Palestine’s liberation will not be delayed by Soleimani’s death,” he said. “To the contrary, it will speed up, because Soleimani’s martyrdom revived the spirit of resistance.”