Monday, December 21, 2015: Senior Hezbollah leader, Samir Qantar was killed in an airstrike on Saturday evening, confirmed by Hezbollah media group al-Manar TV, which caused a back and forth exchange of rockets and artillery between Lebanon and Israel.
The Lebanese militant leader was previously accused by Israel for planning a terrorist attack. Hezbollah has said the airstrike was preplanned and the assassination of their leader was no coincidence. They claimed to avenge Qantar’s death.
Hours after the incident, three rockets were fired from northern Lebanon that targeted Israel. In retaliation, Israel fired artillery shots on Lebanon. However, no injuries or casualties were reported.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that the killing of Qantar was their doing, but several officials have commented on his death.
“I am not confirming or denying anything to do with this matter,” Israeli Housing and Construction Minister, Yoav Gallant told the media adding: “It is good that people like Samir Qantar will not be part of our world.”
“He set up a broad terror network on the Golan, and it is good that he returned his soul to his creator,” Israeli Justice Minister AyeletShakedtold Israel’s official media, without elaborating on any Israeli role.
Qantar was captured and penalized with three life sentences by Israel in the 1979 killing of three Israelis, a policeman, a civilian and his young daughter. He was released to Lebanon in 2008, in a controversial prisoner exchange for the remains of three Israeli soldiers who were captured and later killed by Hezbollah.
After his release to his home country, he had joined Hezbollah and had been their top leader. He also supported Syrian President, Bashar al-Asad against the rebellion and was residing in Jaramana where he was killed along with eight others. The Lebanon-based Hezbollah has also been backed by Iran, the Shi’ite majority country who is also supporting al-Asad’s Regime. The incident irked Iranian government as well.
“Such acts of the Zionist regime Israel, which have become a consistent method, are the most dangerous forms of state terrorism,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari was quoted as saying by the media.
Syrian government has arranged for his funeral and is offering respects on his “martyrdom”. He will be buried in the Shi’ite cemetary in Dahriya, suburb of Bairut.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al Zubiblamed, condemned Israel directly.”The party that gains most from the assassination of Qantar is the Zionist enemy whom we have long known for these cowardly attacks,” he told the media.
Israel’s last confrontation with Hezbollah was in 2006. Experts in Israel say the incidence with certainly escalate tensions between the two but a possible retaliation is not in the best interest of Hezbollah.
“It would not be in their interest, and if they did so, they would have a big problem,” Yaakov Amidror, Israel’s former national security advisersaid.
According to social media, Bassam Kuntar, his brother, was also killed in the attacks. Hezbollah has accused Israel of conducting an airstrike on a densely populated residential area in the suburbs of Damascus.