TEL AVIV (Mar. 28)
A prominent Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, has declared that his organization will continue fighting Israel regardless of the peace talks and their ultimate outcome.
“It is the will of God that Israel will be eradicated sooner or later. This is inevitable,” Nasrallah was quoted as saying by the Lebanese press.
“The resistance will continue even if there is a peace accord,” he said, charging that Israel would “double its arrogance against the Arabs” if peace agreements were reached.
Another Hezbollah leader, Sheik Mohammed Yazbeck, was quoted as saying that anyone who would sign “documents of submission to Israel,” apparently referring to peace treaties, should have their hands chopped off, an Islamic punishment.
In recent weeks, the Shi’ite, Iranian-backed Hezbollah has stepped up attacks against Israel and its allied South Lebanon Army in the Israeli-controlled security zone of southern Lebanon.
Clashes continued over the weekend, with one SLA soldier killed and two others lightly wounded in separate incidents Saturday in the Jezzine region north of the security zone.
The clashes came less than 24 hours after Hezbollah released a Jezzine resident held hostage for more than three years as a “goodwill gesture for the Id el-Fitr festival at the end of Ramadan,” the Islamic holy month.
The hostage, Dr. Elias Asmar, was accused at the time of his kidnapping of collaborating with the SLA and the Israel Defense Force.
SLA commander Gen. Antoine Lehad freed 16 detainees from his El Khiam jail inside the security zone last week, also as a gesture for the Moslem Id el-Fitr holiday.
In the Saturday attacks, a roadside bomb was detonated near SLA troops while they were on operational duties in the area, slightly wounding two of them.
SLA gunners responded by bombarding suspected terrorist targets north of the zone, killing two civilians and wounding nine other people, according to local reports.
Later, guerrilla gunmen opened fire on an SLA position in the region with mortars and light weapons, apparently in reply to the shelling.
One SLA solder was badly hurt and later died of his wounds.