Hizbullah accused Israel on Wednesday of waging an “international campaign” against it after Bulgaria implicated two individuals with links to the Lebanese Shi’ite group in a bomb attack on a bus in the Bulgarian resort of Burgas last July that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian national.
According to Al-Arabiya, Naim Kassem, the terror group’s second in command, slammed the “international campaign of intimidation waged by Israel against Hizbullah,” adding that it is “ever improving its equipment and training” in order to bring about the destruction of the Jewish state.
“[T]hese charges will change nothing,” he said, referring to the Bulgarian investigation.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov warned on Tuesday that Hizbullah’s involvement in the Burgas bombing “will not go without consequences.”
Mladenov told Al Arabiya that the possibility of labeling Hizbullah as a terrorist group has been “on the table” for quite some time, but that the Bulgarian government didn’t want to make any official comments on the issue before receiving tangible evidence.
Both Israel and the United Stated urged the European Union on Tuesday to label Hizbullah a “terrorist” organization, but Europe has until now refused to do so.
“Bulgaria’s implication of Hizbullah underscores the importance of international cooperation in disrupting terrorist threats,” the White House said in a statement. “We call on our European partners as well as other members of the international community to take proactive action to uncover Hizbullah’s infrastructure and disrupt the group’s financing schemes and operational networks in order to prevent future attacks.”
“Bulgaria’s investigation exposes Hizbullah for what it is — a terrorist group that is willing to recklessly attack innocent men, women, and children, and that poses a real and growing threat not only to Europe, but to the rest of the world,” the White House said. “We commend Bulgarian authorities for their determination and commitment to ensuring that Hizbullah is held to account for this act of terror on European soil. The United States will continue to provide the Bulgarian Government assistance in bringing the perpetrators of this heinous attack to justice.”
Congress is also increasing pressure, with some 250 House members and 76 senators signing on to a letter last September urging the European Union to “stand with the United States against Hizbullah,” The Hill reported.
“The targeting of innocents cannot be tolerated by any European Union state and must be condemned forcefully and unanimously by all member nations,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement Tuesday. “The time is now for the EU to designate Hizbullah as a terrorist organization and punish these murderers.”