“With all pride we declare a great Jihadist leader of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon joining the martyrs … The brother commander hajj Imad Mughniyeh became a martyr at the hands of the Zionist Israelis,” said a statement carried on Hizbullah’s Al Manar television which broke into Qoranic verses after the announcement.
“Israel rejects the attempt by terror groups to attribute to it any involvement in this incident,” an Israeli official statement said. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office had earlier refused to comment on Hizbullah’s claims.
The Shiite party called on its supporters to join a funeral procession for Mughniyeh in Beirut’s southern suburbs on Thursday, the same day the pro-government majority March 14 coalition is planning to hold a rally to commemorate the third anniversary of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassination in Martyrs Square. “Let us make our voice heard by all the enemies and murderers that we will make victory no matter how the sacrifices are,” Hizbullah said, urging supporters “to carry on our shoulders a leader we were proud with his leadership.” (Crap English translation courtesy of naharnet…)
The white Mitsubishi Pajero exploded in the ‘upscale’ residential Kafar Sousa neighbourhood of Damascus, near an Iranian school and a Syrian intelligence office late last night. A passer-by was also killed. Seeing as this happened in the not-very-open-to-the-press country of Syria, more details are hard to get by. All the information available is from witnesses and from Hezbollah officials. Syrian officials are as silent as their Israeli counterparts. Mughniyeh was involved in the hijacking of a US airliner in 1985 and in the massive truck bomb that killed over 260 US marines in their barracks in Beirut in 1983 and led to Ronald Reagan withdrawing the marines from Lebanon – they haven’t returned since. Mughniyeh had been living undercover for decades. Israel announced only a few days ago a new spate of assassinations of Hezbollah and Hamas leaders ‘wherever they are’. Angry Arab, meanwhile, is reminded of a ‘joking’ remark Walid Jumblatt made in the US a few months ago: ‘In October (2007), Walid Jumblat, speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the research arm of the Israeli lobby, called on the US to send car bombs to Damascus. In an unusual coincidence–don’t now jump into conclusions and start peddling conspiracy theories, a car bomb just exploded in Damascus. Coincidence. Mere, coincidence, OF COURSE. What else could it be.’
In Beirut, meanwhile, more clashes, albeit minor ones: yesterday night supporters of Amal and Mustaqbal ‘threw stones at each other in the mixed Beirut neighborhood of Mazraa. (…) There were no casualties.’
Jumblatt yesterday night on Future TV (owned by Hariri), while calling for a ‘friendly divorce’ from Hezbollah, made a rare candid revelation of what the M14 vs M8 conflict is really all about: “I don’t want war with Israel, I want armistice, they (i.e. Hezbollah) can keep their weapons and they can fight Israel for as long as they wish, provided we don’t pay for it. (…) We don’t want Lebanon to be an arena for conflicts with Israel.” To put it simply, “Anti-Syrian” in Lebanon is in reality a euphemism for “pro-Israeli”. Many christians and druze in Lebanon have never really been very enthusiastic about ‘the Palestinian cause’ (to put it mildly) and many Lebanese in the diaspora outside Lebanon are perfectly happy to do business with their counterparts in the Israeli diaspora, like they do in the Antwerp diamond trade in Belgium, for example. As I have written before, poor little Lebanon has only 2 neighbours to choose between, and both of them are nasty bullies… Some Lebanese have simply suffered more from the one, others more from the other.