Experts: Many had accounts to settle with Mughniyeh

Zisser: Israel's denial just adds another question mark; Brom: Hizbullah will try to retaliate abroad.

Mughniyeh 88 (photo credit: )
Mughniyeh 88
(photo credit: )
Security and political analysts agreed today that for all its significance, much about the assasination of top Hizbullah commander remains unknown. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, retired Brigadier-General and senior Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) research fellow Shlomo Brom pointed out that "there are quite a few people, organizations and states that had accounts to settle with Mughniyeh." "As far as timing is concerned, it's probably little more than grabbing the opportunity. If you read James Bond novels you might think that reaching someone is easy, but in reality a security service can be tracking a person down for years and years before getting a chance to strike." "He was wanted by 42 countries, most of the world was after him. Israel's official denial just adds another question mark to all the others raised by the assassination," Dr. Eyal Zisser, head of the the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University agreed. "It was pretty predictable that Israel wouldn't want to escalate the situation by claiming responsibility for the attack. Even the fact that the forces in the North weren't put on alert is probably intended as a signal, saying that we want no part in this." Brom had a different explanation of the security situation in the North. "The fact that OC Northern Command forces aren't put on alert implies an understanding that Hizbullah will not retaliate across the border. For years Hizbullah has had a very clear and consistent policy of building up a balance of deterrence with Israel, trading blow for blow. It's a lot more likely that they will react in a similar manner, by trying to hit an Israeli or a Jewish target abroad, just like the Buenos Aires bombings," said Brom. "Unlike in 1982, when an unrelated overseas assassination attempt served as Israel's excuse for going to war, today neither Hizbullah nor Israel are interested in escalating the border conflict. Both sides are well aware of that," Brom said. Analyst Guy Bechor, writing on his website, suggested that the assassination was a "heavy blow" to Hizbullah, noting that "as a senior and confidential operative, Mughniyeh had a lot of contacts, codes and information... he would trust to no one but himself. Now it's all gone."