Hezbollah officials vowed on Monday to avenge the latest Israeli attack on its high-level officials, sources close to the Lebanese Shi’ite organization are quoted as saying in various Arab-language media outlets north of the border.
One pro-Hezbollah source told the Lebanese daily A-Safir that the group “will not rush to decide what steps should be taken” in retaliation to the assassination of Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of slain arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh.
Hezbollah officials told the newspaper that retaliation against Israel “is inevitable,” though they added that “we will not act out of emotion.”
The Shi’ite group is reeling one day after Israel Air Force helicopters fired missiles at a target in the Syrian Golan, killing at least five operatives.
Mughniyeh, the son of former Hezbollah operations chief Imad Mughniyeh, was among those killed in the strike, according to reports. Western intelligence sources said Jihad Mughniyeh headed a large-scale terrorist cell that enjoyed direct Iranian sponsorship and a direct link to Hezbollah. The cell had already targeted Israel in the past, launching attacks on the Golan Heights.
In an official statement, the organization said the attack “was a very harsh blow to process.”
Ibrahim al-Amin, the editor of Al-Akhbar, a pro-Hezbollah newspaper, wrote in Monday editions that the Shi’ite group “will launch between 4,000-5,000 rockets at Israel and will destroy hundreds of targets per day.”
“The enemy’s leadership made a decision to carry out a crime,” Al-Akhbar wrote. “They did this in a direct manner, eyeing a specific target that was engaged in fighting in the Quneitra region. This is more proof that Israel is involved in the fighting in Syria. This is work that is not based on emotion or petty score-settling.”
“A few days ago, [Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan] Nasrallah said that fighting Israel is at the top of his list of priorities despite [the organization’s involvement] in Syria and its deployment of forces there. Mr. Nasrallah is known as an eloquent man and an expert in psychological warfare, but God knows if he means every word he says, or the way he presents his facts is designed to build up the threat for the day in which he actualizes it.”
“In any event, the weapons at Hezbollah’s disposal are there to be used, and not to be stored,” the newspaper wrote. “The response needs to match what it is that the enemy wanted to achieve.”
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told state media that Israel’s attack in the Golan Heights was “an act of terror.”
“We condemn all actions of the Zionist regime as well as all acts of terror,” Zarif told Press TV on Monday. “[Israeli attacks on Hezbollah] has been a practice followed for a very long time. The policy of state terrorism is a known policy of the Zionist regime.”
Iran is Hezbollah’s primary financial and military supporter. Both countries are aiding Syrian President Bashar Assad in his struggle to keep power against a coalition of Sunni opposition militias and Islamist radicals.
Iran’s semi-official Tabnak news site said several of its Revolutionary Guards had also been killed in the attack, but did not give further details. State-run Iranian television said the identity of the “martyrs” could not be confirmed, though an Iranian affiliated Twitter account reported that am Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander, General Allahdadi was “martyred” by the strike.
— H.Soleimani (@MashreghNews_ir) January 18, 2015