BEIRUT, Lebanon - Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, spiritual leader of the Hezbollah terror organization, accused Israel of instigating a report in Germany's Der Spiegel newspaper accusing Hezbollah of assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The article, quoting sources close to the international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination, concluded that Hezbollah, not Syria, was behind the massive truck bombing that killed the prime minister and 22 others.
International and local condemnation following the bombing forced Syria to withdraw its large military presence in Lebanon at that time.
In a speech marking nine years since Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) troops withdrew from southern Lebanon, Nasrallah accused the German newspaper of being part of the "Zionist lobby."
"We see the Der Spiegel report as an Israeli accusation," Nasrallah said. "Der Spiegel belongs to the Zionist lobby, which funds its operations," the sheikh claimed.
"This plan is the last weapon remaining in the American and Israeli plan to create hostility between Arabs and Iran," Nasrallah said, noting that this was not the first time Hezbollah had been accused of the prime minister's assassination.
"There are elections in Lebanon and Israel and the United States are scared of the opposition's [Hezbollah's] victory. They are trying to change the outcome. The Israelis want to start civil war in this country," Nasrallah said.
Hezbollah, which was given veto power in the Lebanese legislature a year ago, hopes to win the popular vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections on June 7.
Sources: The Associated Press, YNet news