Israel calls out Hezbollah on tribunal decision

Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that the verdict in the Rafic Hariri case clearly shows Hezbollah’s responsibility for the murder.

al-monitor Bahiya al-Hariri, the sister of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, prays at his grave on Aug. 18, 2020, in Beirut, Lebanon. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon delivered a guilty verdict earlier that day for one of four Hezbollah members on trial in absentia for the 2005 assassination of Hariri.  Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images).

Aug 19, 2020

On Aug. 18, a UN-backed tribunal in the Netherlands convicted Hezbollah member Salim Ayyash in absentia over his involvement in the 2005 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others in a suicide car bombing. Three other defendants, also tried in absentia, were acquitted in the assassination due to lack of sufficient evidence.

The Hariri investigation didn’t involve Israel. Still, a few hours after the announcement of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's verdict, Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement, saying, "The Hezbollah terrorist organization is implicated in this murder and obstructed justice. Hezbollah has seized the future of the Lebanese people in the service of foreign interests. The international community must act against this terrorist organization to help Lebanon free itself from the threat.’’

The Israeli reaction is undoubtedly linked to the ongoing campaign against Hezbollah, and more specifically to recent tensions on the Israel-Lebanon-Syria border. By the end of the month, the UN Security Council is expected to vote on extending the mandate for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Israel and the United States are seeking major changes in how UNIFIL operates.

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