BEIRUT, (AFP) – Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday openly accused Israel of the 2005 assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri and said he would unveil proof to that effect at a news conference next week.
“I accuse the Israeli enemy of the assassination of (former) Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and… I will prove this by unveiling sensitive information at a press conference on Monday,” Nasrallah said in a speech transmitted via video link.
The Shiite leader said he would present concrete and audiovisual evidence showing that Israeli agents had worked to exploit his Iranian-backed party’s “political rivalry” with Hariri, a Sunni Muslim who was close to Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to pin the murder on Hezbollah.
He did not give further details.
Nasrallah in July had revealed he was aware the UN-backed tribunal probing the Hariri murder was likely to indict members of his militant party, slamming the court as biased and part of an Israeli plot.
His statements sparked fears of an outbreak of violence in already tense Lebanon and prompted a landmark summit in Beirut last week between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Saudi King Abdullah and Lebanese leaders.
Hariri and 22 others were killed in a massive bombing on the Beirut seafront on February 14, 2005.
The assassination sparked an international outcry and led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after a 29-year presence.
The Hariri murder has been widely blamed on Syria, a main backer of Hezbollah along with Iran.
Damascus has consistently denied involvement.
Nasrallah’s pre-scheduled speech on Tuesday came hours after clashes between the Lebanese and Israeli armies killed two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist, and an Israeli commander.
The speech was initially intended to mark the four-year anniversary of the end of the 2006 war between his militant party and Israel.
The 34-day war ended on August 14 but Nasrallah was speaking ahead of the anniversary date because of the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan next week.