Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, said on Tuesday Israeli intelligence believes Hezbollah’s former military leader was murdered by his own men.
Mustafa Badreddine was killed last year in an explosion, originally attributed by Hezbollah as an Israeli airstrike, and then an assassination from a rival Sunni militant group.
A recent report issued by Arab news network al-Arabiya claimed for the first time that Badreddine was instead killed by a subordinate commander within Hezbollah named Hassan Nasrallah. The report, which the Israeli government is now corroborating with their own intelligence sources, claimed that Hassan had Badreddine killed under orders from Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s infamous Quds Force.
Badreddine had been leading the Hezbollah contingent in operations within Syria’s Civil War. Hezbollah has had hundreds of its fighters killed fighting on behalf of the Assad regime.
Israel has attacked Hezbollah elements within Syria multiple times, to include an airstrike last week that nearly resulted in a downed Israeli jet.
According to the report in al-Arabiya, an internal dispute had arisen over the command and control structure of Hezbollah forces fighting in Syria. Badreddine was reportedly leading Hezbollah fighters from the front, personally engaging in battles and taking responsibility for both victory and defeat. Badreddine then decried both Soleimani’s lack of personal investment in the fight, as well as apparent favoritism in the lives of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members. It was at that point the Iranian general pressured Hassan Nasrallah to assassinate Badreddine.
Israel has used the incident to further highlight the threat posed by Hezbollah, but especially Iran. Lt. Gen. Eisenkot stressed the chaos inside Hezbollah that led to Badreddine’s assassination, and has characterized it as evidence of Iran’s deep influence within the organization.
Israel continues to make the case that Iran, through Hezbollah and proxies in Gaza and Lebanon, is actively threatening Israel’s security.
Image courtesy of the BBC