Hezbollah secretary general Said Hassan Nasrallah said today the death of his son in a clash with Israeli troops in South Lebanon marked a victory for the group and pledged to lead an unceasing war against Israel.
Addressing a rally hours after the announcement of the death of Hadi Nasrallah, 18, the Hezbollah leader said the boy had chosen freely to fight occupation troops.
Thousands of tearful Hezbollah supporters raised their fists and chanted as Nasrallah, wearing a black turban, arrived in a square in a southern suburb of Beirut. "God . . . protect Nasrallah," they said.
"My son the martyr chose this road by his own will. . . . The Israeli might think he has achieved victory by killing the son of the secretary general. This fighter was not walking down the street when they killed him. He was with his comrades on the front line," Nasrallah said in a calm yet firm tone.
"This is the difference. This can't be a victory for the enemy. It is a victory and a source of pride for Hezbollah and for the logic of resistance in Lebanon," he added.
Hadi Nasrallah and another guerrilla were killed Friday in fierce fighting between Hezbollah and Israeli troops in the Jabal al-Rafei area on the edge of Israel's occupation zone in southern Lebanon.
Israeli troops seized the bodies of two guerrillas. Reuter television filmed the bodies today in Marjayoun, inside the Israeli occupation zone.
In Jerusalem, Israel's Channel Two television broadcast footage of what it said was the body of Nasrallah's son.
The body was on a stretcher lying beside another dead uniformed man outside a building. Channel Two said the film was shot at a hospital in Marjayoun.
Hezbollah said after the clash that it had lost contact with four of its guerrillas, but later said that while one fighter was missing, another had returned to base.
An Israeli army statement said that "at least four Hezbollah members were killed" in the battle.
Hezbollah, or Party of God, is fighting Israeli troops and their local militia allies in a bid to oust them from the nine-mile-wide occupation zone.