Israel beefs up security ahead of Purim

Police spokesman: Hizbullah may try to carry out holiday attack to avenge assassination of Mughniyeh.

mughniyeh poster 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
mughniyeh poster 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Police will deploy thousands of officers throughout the country this weekend as a precautionary measure during Purim, out of fears that Hizbullah may try to carry out a revenge attack for the assassination of one of its top masterminds, a police spokesman said Monday. Hizbullah has blamed Israel for the Feb. 12 car bombing in Syria that killed Imad Mughniyeh, a Hizbullah leader suspected of masterminding a series of deadly attacks against US and Jewish targets. Israel has denied the charge. Officials in Jerusalem fear that Hizbullah will try to strike at the end of the traditional 40-day mourning period, which coincides with Purim, a time when schools are closed and many Israeli families attend outdoor celebrations. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said thousands of officers and volunteers will guard holiday celebrations and be stationed at bus stations and malls throughout the country. He said also said Israel would likely impose a closure on the West Bank, preventing Palestinians from entering the country. Israel often imposes closures during holidays and other times of high alert. One of the world's most wanted and elusive terrorists, the 45-year-old Mughniyeh was linked to a series of attacks that killed hundreds of Americans, including 241 US Marines in Lebanon and the brutal kidnappings of Westerners in the 1980s. His trail of violence was believed to have extended into the 1990s, with the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, a Jewish center in Buenos Aires and an attack on foreign military housing in Saudi Arabia. Scores of people were killed and hundreds more wounded in those attacks. Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed at Mughniyeh's funeral to retaliate against Israeli targets anywhere in the world, and Israeli precautions have been extended across the globe. Israel fought a war with Hizbullah in the summer of 2006. The war killed 40 Israeli civilians and 119 IDF soldiers and more than 1,000 Lebanese.