After Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Saturday that his organization is holding the remains of Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed in the Second Lebanon War, several government ministers on Sunday called for the militant chief’s assassination.
“Nasrallah is a cruel and crazy man,” said Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas), during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “I don’t understand why he is still breathing. We should have liquidated him a long time ago. I recommend the cabinet assassinate the man.
Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) echoed the sentiment, saying, “Nasrallah is a person who has crossed all lines of inhumanity. We don’t need to negotiate with him, we need to destroy him.”
Absorption Minister Ze’ev Boim called Nasrallah a “sewer rat,” adding, “we must make sure he does not see the light of day.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday advised the cabinet ministers to pay no heed to Nasrallah, maintaining that responding to Nasrallah’s remarks only lends them validity.
“The determining factor is not Nasrallah’s comments. Our problem is that we always strengthen him and his words more than necessary. He always uses psychological pressure, and I recommend paying no heed to his comments,” Barak said.
Israel: We won’t negotiate on return of bodies
Highly-placed sources in Jerusalem said Saturday that Israel would not negotiate with Hezbollah over the return of soldiers’ remains the Islamist group claimed to be holding and was focusing on obtaining the release of kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
The Jerusalem sources expressed shock at Hezbollah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s claims about the body parts in his organization’s possession.
“There is no intention of cooperating with Nasrallah. We will not be a party to profiteering in the remains of Israeli soldiers and will not trade in body parts,” they said.
Senior military officials Saturday confirmed that Hezbollah was in possession of the remains of IDF who died in the Second Lebanon War.
They said the security establishment had updated the families of soldiers who could possibly be affected.
Sources in Jerusalem, meanwhile, confirmed that the person mediating between Israel and Hezbollah is continuing his efforts to bring about another prisoner exchange agreement, one that would include Regev and Goldwasser.
Israeli officials have long been aware that Hezbollah possesses the remains of Israeli soldiers. No complete bodies are involved; the bodies of all soldiers who were killed in the war were retrieved and buried in Israel and every family who asked received a full report about the state of the body at the time of burial.
A statement by the IDF Spokesman’s Office said the statements “constitute a cruel and cynical move by an organization that fragrantly tramples the most fundamental, ethical codes, shows no respect for human rights or the international conventions that govern these matters … we call upon all those with the most basic common sense to view him as cowardly and to condemn him.”
Military officials said they believe the remains of about 10 soldiers are involved.
Nasrallah made the statements Saturday in a rally marking the Shi’ite holiday of Ashura.
“Oh Zionists, your army is lying to you … your army has left the body parts of your soldiers in our villages and fields,” Nasrallah said. “Our mujahideen used to fight these Zionists, killing them and collecting their body parts. I am not talking about regular body parts. I tell the Israelis, we have the heads of your soldiers, we have hands, we have legs … there is even a near-complete body, a half or three-quarters of a body, from head, to chest to the torso,” he added.