Mixed reactions to Israel attack on Hezbollah

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Mixed reactions to Israel attack on Hezbollah
The Daily Star/Jan. 20, 2015

BEIRUT: Local and international officials expressed mixed reactions Monday to the news of Israel’s attack on a Hezbollah convoy in Syria a day earlier, as the party began to bury the first of six of its fighters killed in the airstrike.

While some roundly condemned Israel’s attack as an act of terror and aggression, others warned that Hezbollah’s military involvement in the Syrian civil war risked dragging Lebanon into a confrontation it could ill afford.

The Israeli helicopter strike on a group of vehicles travelling through the Golan Heights killed Hezbollah field commander Mohammad Issa, along with Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of slain Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, four other Lebanese fighters, two Syrian fighters affiliated with Hezbollah and a senior Iranian commander.

Iranian Foreign MinistryIn a statement, Iran expressed its condolences to the families of those killed as well as the survivors.

“The terrorist act indicates that the Syria war is a part of the confrontation with the Zionist regime [Israel],” it said, praising Hezbollah for its determination to continue along “the path of jihad and martyrdom against occupation and foreign interference in the affairs of other nations.”

Future MovementFuture Movement lawmaker Ahmad Fatfat accused Hezbollah of caring more about Iran’s interests than those of Lebanon, stressing that “the Lebanese have nothing to do with what’s happening in Syria’s Golan Heights.”

In remarks to Akhbar al-Yom news site Monday, he warned that if Hezbollah used Lebanese territory to respond to the attack by Israel then Lebanon would be dragged into a “destructive war that would be more fierce than the 2006 conflict.”

HezbollahHezbollah MP Hussein Musawi said the incident “comes in the context of an open war between the resistance and the Israeli entity, which has never stopped.”

In comments made during political seminar in the town of Nabi Sheet in Baalbek, Musawi also extended his “blessing and condolences to the families of the martyrs.”

Regarding Hezbollah’s response to the attack, comments from the party remained vague. Mahmoud Qomati, a member of Hezbollah’s political bureau, said Monday that the party would respond to the attack “in the right place and at the right time.”

Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb“It’s not in anyone’s interest for a front to be opened [with Israel] and for Lebanon to enter a war,” Harb said in a statement released after his meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam Monday.

“This issue concerns all the Lebanese, because [ensuing] repercussions and reactions could make Lebanon vulnerable to adverse consequences,” he added.

The telecoms minister offered his condolences to “Lebanese citizens” who were killed during the attack, adding that he hoped Hezbollah would refrain from being involved in battles outside of Lebanon.

Amal Movement“Israel does not want Lebanon to be at ease,” Speaker Nabih Berri told visitors. “The more Lebanon achieves progress in terms of stability, Israel steps in with the aim of putting pressure, sabotaging [stability] and escalation against Lebanon.”

Free Patriotic Movement “We were not in need of the Qunaitra massacre to discover Israel’s terrorist attitude, for this is its historical path: killings, terrorism and desecration of holy sites,” FPM leader Michel Aoun tweeted. “I offer my condolences to the leader of the resistance and to families of the martyrs.”

Kataeb PartyThe attack points to the importance of national dialogue between rival parties which would serve to “ward off the repercussions of the Israeli operation,” said a statement released by the party after its regular meeting Monday.

The party urged Hezbollah to abide by a policy of disassociation from regional affairs in an effort to prevent “serious conflict” and called for parties to “keep Lebanon out of a dangerous war whose consequences Lebanon is not capable of bearing.”

“The Lebanese people continue to pay the price of Hezbollah’s involvement in all regional conflicts,” Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel added on his personal Twitter account.

Lebanese Communist Party“The ugly crime by the Zionist enemy that happened [Sunday] … confirms the comprehensiveness of the Israeli aggression that includes all Arab countries, on top of the daily aggression on Palestinian youth and children,” a spokesperson said in a statement on behalf of the party.

The attack confirms “the direct Israeli role in the Syrian crisis” and is an attempt to obstruct a possible “political dialogue between the Syrian state and Syrian opposition,” the statement added.

Former President Michel SleimanCondemning the attack, Sleiman warned of “the consequences of being drawn into any reactions on the Lebanese borders with Israel, whom we shouldn’t give any excuse to benefit from in its internal policies just for electoral reasons.”

Sleiman reiterated “the necessity of adopting the defense strategy that he presented to the national dialogue committee to benefit from the powers of the resistance [Hezbollah] to support the Army in its confrontation of any possible Israeli aggression on Lebanese soil.”

To offer his condolences for those killed in the attack, Sleiman called the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammad Raad.

Shiite scholar Sayyed Ali Fadlallah“The aggression by the Zionist enemy that targeted the fighters of the Islamic resistance in Qunaitra is out of a strategic fear of the resistance, which is still in control of the Zionist leaders’ minds,” Fadlallah said in a statement Monday. “They see it as a worrying element and a threat to their entity and existence.”

“This Zionist aggression confirms that the enemy knows about everything happening in Syria, and is trying to control the course of the Syrian situation,” he added.

He said the reason behind the attack was for Syria to be “kept in the cycle of attrition on the one hand and for [Israel] to be a key player in all that is going on on the other hand, under the pretext of protecting its being and security.”

Fatah MovementSpeaking on behalf of Palestinians, Fatah condemned the attack and offered its condolences.

“It’s not surprising that the Zionist enemy would commit a traitorous criminal aggression targeting [Hezbollah],” the statement said, adding that the attack affected both the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples.