BEIRUT: Lebanese political and religious leaders from across the divide condemned the assassination of a Hezbollah official Wednesday, many accusing Israel of the killing and claiming that it aimed at inciting strife in the country. Hezbollah commander Hajj Hassan Hawlo al-Lakkis was gunned down overnight Wednesday outside his home in Hadath, south of Beirut, by at least one unidentified gunman. He died from his wounds after being rushed to the hospital. March 8 and March 14 leaders lamented another security incident in the country, while many of Hezbollah’s allies and Shiite religious leaders said the attack served Israel’s interests.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati called the assassination a threat to Lebanon’s security and stability and said it aimed to incite more strife.
Mikati was briefed on the investigations into the assassination during a meeting with caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel Wednesday, and urged the judiciary to uncover the truth. He also called for the “intensification of security and judicial investigations in order to uncover the crime and bring the perpetrators to justice,” according to a statement.
Charbel deplored the assassination and called it a criminal act. He stressed that security forces were working hard to bring the assassin to justice.
Head of the Future parliamentary bloc former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora also denounced the assassination in a statement Wednesday.
“We [the Future bloc] have always and still do completely reject the use of violence and we condemn the assassination of any citizen,” he said.
In the same statement, Siniora also criticized remarks made by Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah during an interview with OTV. On Tuesday, Nasrallah said he was convinced a Lebanon-based Al-Qaeda group with direct links to Saudi intelligence was behind last month’s deadly bombing outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, an attack that claimed 30 lives and wounded many more.
The Future movement rejects “false and random accusations issued by Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah toward the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has always stood by Lebanon and supported it and worked on getting it out of adversity and the crises that hold it down.”
Siniora said that such accusations were destabilizing and deepened divisions in the country.
Hezbollah’s allies also spoke out against the assassination Wednesday. Head of the Lebanon branch of the Arab Socialist Baath Party Fayez Shukr said the Hezbollah commander’s assassination was further proof that the resistance in Lebanon was being targeted. Shukr said Lebanon needed protection from such conspiracies.
“The murderous criminals targeting our martyr and hero have also targeted Lebanon’s security and civil peace,” Shukr said.
Reacting to Siniora’s comments but without mentioning the minister’s name, Shukr said that it was suspicious to defend Saudi Arabia in view of the kingdom’s role in Syria.
“Don’t the hundreds of Saudis killed on Syrian land, in addition to the hundreds detained, create physical evidence as to the truth of the Saudi role?” he asked.
Lebanon’s Communist Party also condemned the killing and claimed Israel was responsible as it “preyed” on Hezbollah to compensate for its defeats, according to a statement.
The party warned of “the seriousness of the crime which points to the movement of the enemy’s sleeper cells that tamper with the Lebanese arena and take advantage of the political situation and security vulnerability.”
Head of the pro-Assad Arab Democratic Party Ali Eid said in a statement Wednesdaythat the assassination of the Hezbollah official worked in the interest of Israel and aimed to create division and discord in Lebanon.
The attack was an “attempt to hit the resistance and opposition at its core and to discourage it from standing up to the Zionist project and its clients,” Eid said.
Religious leaders also condemned the assassination. Higher Shiite Council deputy head Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan strongly denounced Lakkis’ killing, which he said was the product of “evil, lurking agents” which serve Israel and “target the resistance.”
“The Israeli enemy will not manage to extinguish the flame of the resistance no matter its crimes and its aggressions, for the assassination of commander Lakkis is a clear message targeting the resistant Lebanese society,” Qabalan said.
He also called on Lebanese to stand in solidarity in order to protect their land and safeguard their families in the face of Israeli plots.
Shiite scholar Sayyed Ali Fadlallah urged the national community to be wary of an Israeli plot, saying the best response would be to preserve internal Islamic unity in light of what he called a violent and cowardly assassination.
The aim of the assassination was to rid the resistance of a “bright and creative leadership” as well as “to try to pour oil over the fire on all matters relating to the Syrian conflict and its impact on Lebanon,” he said.