Yesterday, an Israeli helicopter air strike on the Syrian province of Quneitra reportedly killed six militants from Lebanon’s Hezbollah as well as six Iranian soldiers, including senior commanders. Hezbollah and Iran have joined forces with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in what has degenerated into a war against Sunni jihadists.
Among the casualties was Jihad Mughniyeh, a Hezbollah commander and the son of late Hezbollah icon Imad Mughniyeh, himself assassinated by the Mossad in Damascus in 2008. The accused mastermind of various plots against Israeli and other targets, Imad was not the first Mughniyeh to meet his end at the hands of Israeli intelligence. As Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman document in their bookSpies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars, his brother Fuad was blown up in southern Beirut in 1994 in a Mossad-concocted “dead bait” scheme to lure Imad back from hiding abroad: “It was hoped that Imad could not resist the Shi’ite fraternal duty of attending Fuad’s funeral.”
The elimination of a third Mughniyeh, the offspring of Israel’s former most wanted, is thus heavily charged with symbolism and essentially forces some sort of retaliation from Hezbollah. Adding to the powder keg situation is the fact that the air assault occurred a mere three days after Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah warned the Jewish state of imminent reprisal attacks for continuing Israeli military strikes in Syria.
Given the proximity of Hezbollah’s headquarters to Israel and the Party of God’s relative freedom of movement as a non-state actor that receives sponsorship from Iran, it’s only natural that retaliatory duties might fall to it rather than to the Islamic Republic. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.