BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group refused to comment directly Wednesday on last week’s killing of a man suspected of entering Israel from Lebanon. He said the Iran-backed group's silence is part of a psychological war.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah refused to say whether his group had anything to do with the attacker, who was carrying explosives and was killed dozens of kilometers (miles) south of the border with Lebanon.
Last week, the Israeli army said soldiers killed an armed man suspected of entering the country from Lebanon and blowing up a car, raising the risk of renewed tensions with Hezbollah.
The incident unnerved Israelis, who questioned on social media and elsewhere how someone with explosives could travel dozens of kilometers inside Israel and set off a roadside bomb before being detected.
“Our silence is part of the psychological, media and military battle with the enemy,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech adding that it is not Hezbollah’s responsibility to respond to what “is confusing the enemy.”
“Sometimes our answer is by not commenting on the incident,” he added. Responding to Israeli threats that if Hezbollah turns out to be responsible, Israel will retaliate against the group, Nasrallah said: “Go to hell.”
Thee was no immediate response to Nasrallah's comments from the Israeli military. The army this week said it had determined how the man crossed the border. But it gave no details, saying only that it had ruled out a tunnel infiltration. It says the incident is still under investigation.
The Israeli army said soldiers stopped a car carrying the bombing suspect at a checkpoint on March 13, shortly after a roadside explosion seriously injured a driver near Megiddo Junction in the country’s north. The suspect was wearing a suicide vest and had a rifle and another gun when he was stopped. The army said it shot and killed the man and is questioning the driver.
The army said the device exploded at a 90-degree angle, which is unusual for the area. That led officials to suspect that the man infiltrated from Lebanon and may have been linked to Hezbollah.
The Lebanon-Israel border has remained quiet but tense since the 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006 that ended with a draw.
Commenting on Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who said in Paris that the notion of a Palestinian people was artificial, Nasrallah said it seems that the Israeli official “does not know history.”