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Israel blamed for bomb blast on hezbollah { July 19 2004 }

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Car Bomb Blast Kills a Hezbollah Official
Car Bomb Explosion Kills a Hezbollah Official in Beirut

The Associated Press

BEIRUT, Lebanon July 19, 2004 A Hezbollah militia official was killed Monday when his car exploded as he was prepared to leave his home in southern Beirut, the Islamic militant group said, blaming Israel for the bombing.
Ghaleb Awali, 40, was "an official of the resistance," a Hezbollah spokesman said. He declined to give any details and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Al-Manar TV, run by Hezbollah, showed pictures of the burned out car and said it blew up when "one of the strugglers in the resistance" started the engine to leave his home.

"The Zionist enemy is fully responsible for this brazen crime, which was an act of vengeance for the resistance's victories and steadfastness," Hezbollah said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Beirut. Hezbollah generally refers to Israel as the "Zionist enemy" rather than by name.

Awali's casket, draped in Hezbollah's yellow flag, was carried through a crowd gathered to hear a eulogy from the group's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

Nasrallah said Israel ultimately was responsible for Awali's death and promised to cut off the hands of those who killed him. Awali, he said, was a member of the team who in later years was supporting the Palestinians against Israel.

"He's the martyr of the road to Palestine, a martyr of Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in confronting the Zionist project," Nasrallah said.

A Lebanese security official said the blast went off at 9:05 a.m. local time in the predominantly Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Harat Hreik, a Hezbollah stronghold.

Several nearby buildings were damaged, their windows shattered, but there were no other casualties in the explosion, he said.

Hezbollah said in a statement that Awali died instantly, though a Lebanese security official said he was rushed to a nearby Hezbollah-run hospital where he died soon after.

The security official also said Awali had recently returned from abroad, though neither he nor Hezbollah would say where he had been or for how long.

Awali, also known as Abu Mustafa, began participating in operations against Israel in 1982, when Israeli forces invaded southern Lebanon. He led many operations and was captured and detained by Israeli forces early on, according to Hezbollah, which did not provide details.

The group said he had participated in several advanced military courses, and later in cultural and administrative courses.

A similar blast in August 2003 killed Ali Hussein Saleh, who was widely believed to be an explosives expert for Hezbollah and worked as a security guard at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut. An unidentified man sitting beside him and a passer-by also were killed and several people were injured.

Hezbollah accused the United States and Israel of masterminding Saleh's killing.

Two months earlier, a bomb exploded in an ambulance belonging to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon near the border with Israel, seriously wounding its driver.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah led a guerrilla war against Israel's 18-year occupation of a border zone in southern Lebanon that ended with Israeli forces' withdrawal in May 2000. Israel and the U.S. State Department consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization; it's widely regarded as a liberation movement throughout the rest of the Middle East.

Awali, who was married with five children, was to be buried later Monday in his birthplace of Toulin, in southern Lebanon.

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