During the three terrorists’ funeral in Beirut Friday afternoon, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah said “it’s our duty and natural right to abduct soldiers.”
Bodies transferred to Lebanon
“Those martyrs were killed, but many others are still waiting their turn. Hizbullah members would not forget any prisoner in Israeli jails and would not agree to any Israeli violation on the ground,” he said.
“We won’t renounce our right and duty to assist Syria and Iran, which helped us against the Israeli occupation,” Nasrallah added amid “death to Israel, death to the U.S.” chants from the crowd.
Earlier, Israel decided to respond favorably to the Lebanese request to return the terrorists' bodies, hoping the move would help "ease tensions" in the region.
The terrorists were killed when they infiltrated Israel in a bid to abduct an Israeli soldier. One of the gunmen was killed in Lebanese territory, but the bodies of the other three remained in Israel's hands until Friday.
IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz revealed on Wednesday that Israel was holding talks with the Lebanese government over the return of the bodies. Halutz added that leaving the bodies in Israel may motivate Hizbullah to carry out further attacks against Israel, and to abduct soldiers that may be used a bargaining chip later.
The negotiations on returning the bodies were initiated Wednesday and continued Thursday, facilitated by U.N. mediation.
While Israel remained firm in its position that the terror attacks were the responsibility of the Lebanese government, government sources stated however that handing over the bodies would boost trust between the two countries, and help create "a long-lasting calm on the northern border."
Notably, in an incident that involved Hizbullah and the IDF in June, in which an Israeli soldier and a terrorist were killed, the army has also complied with Lebanese requests to return the terrorist's body.
Sources in the security administration said that the two incidents demonstrated Israel's wish to show humanitarianism toward Lebanon. The sources also hinted that these Israeli gestures may in the future assist negotiations pertaining to the missing Israeli pilot Ron Arad.
Ali Waked contributed to the story