Israel Should Heed Hezbollah’s Threat of Retaliation for Kuntar Elimination

AP Photo
AP Photo

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah’s threat to avenge Samir Kuntar’s death should be taken seriously by Israel, a column in Haaretz warned.

According to Haaretz columnist Amos Harel, past experience shows that Hezbollah takes matters relating to its honor and image very seriously and Nasrallah’s threat to take revenge for the killing of arch-terrorist Kuntar should not be taken lightly.

On Monday evening, Nasrallah promised to seek revenge on Israel without giving specifics. According to Harel, Nasrallah always follows through on his threats even if they don’t end up being serious enough to start a war.

Days after a targeted assassination in January, in which Israel killed Hezbollah militant Jihad Mughniyeh, an Iranian general, and five other militants on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, Hezbollah militants fired missiles at Har Dov on the Syrian-Lebanese border, killing two IDF soldiers.

Harel notes, however, that unlike Mughniyeh, Kuntar was not operating under Hezbollah’s purview over the past year. In fact, despite the praise heaped on Hezbollah’s dead “hero,” the organization had been distancing itself from the terrorist.

Instead, over the past year Kuntar had been operating through an Iranian colonel under the direct stewardship of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria and Lebanon.

Harel does not consider the rockets fired into the Galilee on Sunday evening to be retaliatory measures, because it is not even certain that the attacks were coordinated with Hezbollah. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command took responsibility for the attack.

That pro-Syrian Palestinian group was founded by Ahmed Jibril before splitting into two factions, the second being the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF). Kuntar, referred to by Israeli intelligence as a “ticking bomb,” carried out a terror attack in which he murdered a policeman and smashed the skull of a four-year-old girl on behalf of the PLF.

Harel asserts that ultimately the decision on who will execute a revenge mission rests with Iran. It will depend on Tehran’s interests in the region as well as its relationship with Western powers following the signing of the nuclear agreement.

These factors, together with Assad’s survival in Syria and the election of a new Lebanese president, carry far more weight for Iran than the death of Kuntar.