Hezbollah Declares Open War with Israel

BEIRUT – Hezbollah threatened on Thursday, February 14, an "open" war with the Israeli enemy is accuses of assassinating its top military commander, Imad Mugniyah.

"Zionists, if you want this kind of open war, then let the whole world listen: Let this war be an open war," Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah told mourner assembled for Mugniyah’s funeral in Beirut’s southern suburb.

He said his group’s initial investigation into the killing of Mugniyah in a car blast in the Syrian capital on Tuesday, February 12, lead to Israel.

Nasrallah threatened that by killing Mugniyah in Damascus, Israel had moved its ballet against Hezbollah outside Lebanon’s borders.

"You killed him outside our battleground. Our battleground with you was on Lebanese territory and you have crossed the border," he said.

"Mark my words," the Hezbollah said empathetically, "the blood of Imad Mugniyah will contribute to wiping out the Jewish state."

Addressing thousands of mourners, including Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, Nasrallah said Hezbollah had already started preparing for the next war immediately after defeating the invading Israeli troops in 2006.

"Mugniyah himself championed these preparations and accomplished most of the work," he stressed, adding that the few remaining tasks would be completed by those Mugniyah had groomed.

Mugniyah, in his late 40s, had played a major role in the 34-day war with Israel.

Israel, which welcomed his killing but denied involvement, believes he masterminded the capture of its two soldiers in a cross-border in July 2006.

Simmering Tension 
The Hezbollah leader, meanwhile, took a swipe at the March 14 coalition.

He accused some leaders of the ruling majority of turning the third anniversary of former premier Rafiq Hariri’s assassination into "a party of curses."

"The Lebanon that we gave our dear leaders will never be Israeli and will never be divided. He (MP Walid Jumblatt) who wants divorce (between the ruling majority and the opposition) can go to his masters in Washington and Tel Aviv," said Nasrallah.

"Lebanon will remain united and in spite of some dwarfs, Lebanon will continue to be a country for resistance."

Across the other side of Beirut, thousands of people amassed to commemorate the murder of Hariri in a 2005 car bombing.

At the rally, speakers gave fiery speeches intensifying their attacks against the Hezbollah-led opposition and accusing Syria of meddling in Lebanese politics.

Druze leader Jumblatt, a sharp Hezbollah critic, accused the opposition of trying to drag Lebanon into the "Iranian-Syrian black evil world."

He even blamed the "double-crossing regime" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of killing Mugniyah.

Lebanese Forces boss Samir Geagea also attacked the opposition.

"No to your tents and threats," he said, addressing opposition activists who have been staging an around-the-clock sit-in in the southern half of the Martyrs’ Square for more than a year.

"Do not fear them, no matter what they try to do; life is stronger than obstruction," Geagea told supporters.

Saad al-Hariri, the leader of the parliamentary majority, played a softer tone.

"Our hand is extended and will remain extended, no matter what the difficulties," Hariri said addressing himself to the opposition.

"We call on you to elect General Michel Suleiman president of the republic now and not tomorrow so that we can sit together in a government of national unity."

Deadlocked in a political crisis since 2006, Lebanon has been without a president since last November when Emile Lahoud stepped down at the end of his term.

A subsequent power struggle between the ruling majority and the opposition has left a continuing vacuum.

The opposition and governing coalition have agreed on Suleiman, the army leader, as the nominee for president.

But his election has been postponed by a dispute over the division of seats in the new cabinet.

(IslamOnline.net and agencies)

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