Israeli Sources: Hezbollah Leader Poisoned

Wednesday, 22 Oct 2008 04:56 PM

By Tim Collie

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The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, was nearly assassinated by poison, Israel’s leading news sources were reporting Wednesday, citing a report on an Iraqi Web site.

Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, and Ynet.com all reported the alleged incident.

Neither Hezbollah nor Western media sources confirmed the report, but the fact that Israel’s leading media were publishing the information suggests that reporters there had verified it with Israeli intelligence.

In fact, Israeli intelligence may have been behind the attempt. They have used poison in past assassination attempts, most notably in an effort to kill Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in 1997. He was saved only after officials in Jordan demanded the antidote for the poison, which was poured down his ear.

Killing Nasrallah would be just below striking Iran on Israel’s military to-do list. He is one of the most charismatic radical figures in the Middle East, and a formidable guerrilla military strategist who has long been the bane of the Jewish state.

Hezbollah bruised Israel in a conflict in 2006, and has built a state-within-a-state in neighboring Lebanon. Hezbollah has reportedly established a huge arms stockpile, possibly including chemical weapons, with the help of Iran.

The Iraqi news Web site Almalaf.net quoted “high-ranking diplomatic sources in Beirut” as saying that Nasrallah survived a poisoning attempt with a highly toxic chemical.

Nasrallah suffered grave effects from the poison, and a team of 15 Iranian physicians was flown to Beirut to attend him, and eventually managed to stabilize his condition.

The report quoted “Western diplomatic sources” as saying that Israel was apparently behind the assassination attempt, adding that the Shiite group has launched an investigation into the incident.

The origin of the chemical may indicate who was behind the plot, since different agencies prefer different methods, according to the report. But Lebanese parliament member Al-Hajj Hassan, a member of the group, said, “This is a lie and a fabrication. It's true that I haven't seen [Nasrallah] this past week, but he's OK.”

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