Hezbollah commander Samir Quntar was laid to rest after thousands bid their farewells in a mass funeral in Beirut’s southern suburbs Monday, one day after he was reported killed in an Israeli airstrike in Syria.
Hezbollah’s yellow flag draped the coffin of the “Dean of Lebanese Prisoners” as huge posters of Quntar were hung up in the Ghobeiri neighborhood.
“Death to America, Death to Israel,” mourners shouted as Quntar’s coffin was carried from Rawdat al-Shahidayn, where his family was receiving condolences, to his burial site of Rawdat al-Hawraa Zainab.
Quntar, the longest-serving Lebanese prisoner in Israel, was killed Saturday night in what is believed to be an Israeli airstrike on a residential building in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana. News of his death emerged earl Sunday.
Hezbollah quickly promised to avenge his assassination.
“Quntar had qualities that prove to us that there is one path of resistance, which is the path to Palestine and Jerusalem,” head of Hezbollah’s executive council Sayyed Hashem Safieddine told thousands of mourners who flocked to pay respect to Quntar.
“Quntar… in one word is the son of the resistance.”
Safieddine warned that Israel “has opened a new battle” following the killing.
Women threw rice and flower petals at the coffin as it passed under their balconies while mourners on the street repeated chants being sung by a speaker on a megaphone.
People held Hezbollah, Palestinian and Lebanese flags during the funeral procession as security forces deployed heavily in the area to prevent any chaos or security breaches.
Zainab Berjaoui, Quntar’s wife, told Al-Jadeed that she was proud of her husband, vowing that their four-and-a-half-year-old son Ali will follow in his father’s footsteps.
“We’re all on the same path, even my son Ali will be where he wanted him to be, on the road to Jerusalem.”
Quntar had met his wife in 2009, a year after he was released from Israeli prisons.
Quntar was released by Israel in 2008 as part of a prisoner swap with Hezbollah, following Israel’s 2006 summer war against Lebanon.
Hezbollah said in a statement that Quntar was killed along with a number of Syrian citizens in the Israeli raid, without giving details. Thousands of Hezbollah fighters are deployed alongside government forces in Syria.
Quntar was imprisoned in 1979 at the age of 16 in Israel and sentenced to three life terms after he and three other Lebanese entered Israel with the aim of kidnapping a nuclear scientist.
He was convicted of staging an attack that led to the deaths of four Israelis, but has repeatedly denied responsibility.
Hezbollah did not say which role Quntar played in the Syrian conflict, but Syrian state media have said that he was involved in a major offensive earlier this year in Qunaitra, near the Golan Heights.
By Hanan Khaled