Thousands of mourners gathered in southern Beirut on Monday to pay respects to Samir Kantar, a high-profile commander of the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah who was killed in Syria in a suspected Israeli air strike.
Chants of “death to Israel” punctuated the air as Hezbollah fighters in military uniforms carried Kantar’s coffin to a cemetery in its southern Beirut stronghold where he was laid to rest.
Speaking at Kantar’s funeral, senior Hezbollah official Hashem Safeieddine said Israel would be held accountable for Sunday’s deadly air strike.
“If the Israelis think by killing Samir Kantar they have closed an account then they are very mistaken because they know – and will come to know – that they have instead opened several more,” said Safeieddine, according to Reuters news agency.
Kantar, who spent 30 years in Israeli prisons, was killed along with eight others in a strike on a building in the Jaramana area of the capital Damascus.
Hezbollah is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and operates in the country against various rebel forces.
Kantar, who had earned the title of the longest-serving Arab prisoner in Israel, was a 16-year old when he and three other members of the Palestine Liberation Front infiltrated the Israeli village of Nahariya by sea from Lebanon.
He was sentenced to five life terms plus 47 years for killing Danny Haran, his four-year-old daughter Einat, and an Israeli policeman. Kantar had always denied killing the girl or her father.
Israel released Kantar in 2008 as part of a prisoner swap with Hezbollah, after which he received a hero’s welcome upon his arrival at Beirut Airport.