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Israeli Cabinet Ministers Call for Assassination of Hezbollah Leader Nasrallah

  • Robert Berger

Israel is threatening to target the leader of the Islamic guerrilla group Hezbollah in Lebanon. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, the threats came in response to a fiery speech that infuriated Israeli officials.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, several Israeli ministers called for the assassination of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

"Nasrallah is a madman, and I do not know why he is still breathing," said Minister Yitzhak Cohen. He said Nasrallah should have been killed a long time ago because he is a "dangerous enemy" of the State of Israel.

Cohen was responding to a gloating speech by Nasrallah on Saturday in Beirut, his first public appearance in nearly a year.

Nasrallah told tens of thousands of supporters that Hezbollah is holding body parts of Israeli soldiers left behind in the Lebanon War in 2006, including heads, hands and legs.

The speech appeared aimed at pressuring Israel to accept a prisoner exchange. But Cabinet Minister Meir Sheetrit said Nasrallah had crossed all red lines, and Israel would not respond to what he described as "inhumane" demands.

"Israel should not negotiate with Nasrallah," Sheetrit said. "It should liquidate him."

Israel confirms that the body parts of some Israeli soldiers were left behind in Lebanon. But its biggest concern is winning the release of two soldiers whose kidnapping by Hezbollah sparked the war. It is not known if the soldiers are alive or dead, and Nasrallah kept Israel guessing: He did not say a word about their fate.