Nasrallah implies Israel behind Hariri hit

Hezbollah chief speaks calls 4 Hezbollah members charged with assassination of former Lebanese prime minister "brothers."

By OREN KESSLER
July 2, 2011 21:26
2 minute read.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah

Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday defended the four members of the terrorist organization charged with the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, praising the men as “brothers” – and implying that Israel’s hand was behind the UN tribunal that issued last week’s indictments.

Speaking from an undisclosed location, Nasrallah addressed the allegations for the first time since the UN court announced the indictments on Thursday.

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Charges that Hezbollah was behind the 2005 killing of the prominent Sunni leader have already inflamed sectarian tensions in the small and fractious country.

Nasrallah lamented that charges had been brought against “brothers who have made history in resisting the Zionist occupation.”

“We mentioned the possibility of having Israel involved in the murder, and the fact that [Israeli] agents were present at the murder scene one day before the murder,” he said, according to a translation provided by the website Now Lebanon.

“No one in the STL [Special Tribunal for Lebanon] even asked the Israelis anything. This is normal – why? Because the tribunal, since its formation, had a precise goal, and no one was allowed to talk to the Israelis...



“Instead of investigating the Israelis, [the STL] gathered information from them. Imagine that Israel – instead of being under investigation – has become a source of information and [the tribunal] is cooperating with it.”

Nasrallah dismissed the tribunal as “politicized,” and said the arrest warrants issued against the Hezbollah operatives “are a step in a long journey whose course is becoming clearer, following Israel’s defeat and the victory of the resistance in the [Second Lebanon] war.”

The 2005 assassination of Hariri, seen as a Sunni leader, plunged Lebanon into a series of crises which included killings, brief internal fighting and a 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.

The main question is whether Lebanon is going to hand over the suspects for trial.

Hezbollah, which is both a political party and a heavily armed group, is highly secretive about its military wing, making the mission of security forces to find the suspects – let alone arresting them – almost impossible.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Jamal Wakim of Lebanese International University defended Nasrallah’s comments.

“It would be in the interest of Israel to implicate Hezbollah in such an act so that it’s viewed not as a resistance moment but a terrorist movement involved in acts not only against Israelis, but Lebanese,” he said. “That would mean it is a Shia movement that killed a Sunni leader...in order to engender civil strife that could lead to a civil war.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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