Mourners carried the corpse of 42-year-old Ali Hussein Salah on Sunday through his hometown of Brital in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley a day after a bomb in his car tore him apart in Beirut.
Describing Salah as a martyr, Hizb Allah vowed to retaliate. Salah joined the group after Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon and participated in resistance operations which ousted occupation troops from south Lebanon in May 2000.
Senior Hizb Allah cleric Mohammad Yazbek hailed Salah as a casualty in the group’s conflict with the Jewish state and lashed out at Israel’s US patron for accusing Hizb Allah of “terrorism”.
“This is among the results of the ongoing war between the resistance and the Zionist entity,” he said. “Isn’t the assassination of Ali Hussein Salah a terrorist act?”
Israel has declined to comment. Salah was an employee of the Iranian embassy in Lebanon.
Witnesses said the explosion sent
In retaliation Hizb Allah fired at Israeli warplanes violating the country’s airspace over south Lebanon, injuring one person in northern Israel, said police on both sides of the border.
Anti-aircraft batteries targeted the Israeli planes on Sunday.
One Israeli was slightly injured.
Israel regularly violates Lebanon’s airspace, despite criticism from the United Nations and Beirut.
Washington accuses the resistance group of masterminding bomb attacks against the US embassy in Beirut and Marine barracks and kidnappings of Westerners during Lebanon’s 1975 to 1990 civil war.
Hizb Allah denies the accusations. Since the end of the civil war it has emerged as a political party with members in parliament. It runs charities, hospitals and non-government organisations.
Hizb Allah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasr Allah warned last week the group would detain Israeli soldiers if there was no progress in prisoner swap negotiations.
Israel holds at least 19 Lebanese detainees, many without trial or charge. Hizb Allah holds three Israeli soldiers.
Yazbek suggested Salah’s assassination was a sign of Washington’s ire over the warning.