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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lebanon Mourns and Vows Revenge

BEIRUT -- The pro-Iranian Hizbollah vowed Friday to wage suicide attacks on Israel as thousands of Moslem militants buried 26 guerrillas killed in an Israeli air raid and Israeli tanks massed at the Lebanese border. Lebanon observed a complete shutdown to mourn the victims of Israel's bloodiest air raid into Lebanon in seven years. Public and private institutions, schools, banks and shops closed down in Moslem and Christian areas. Radio and television stations suspended their normal programs and broadcast verses from Islam's holy book, the Koran, and classical music. "The resistance will respond ... regardless of the timing," the group's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah told some 15,000 militants taking part in a funeral procession for eight of the slain guerrillas in Beirut's southern suburbs. "The mujahedin are still here. Yesterday we had tens of suicide attackers, today we have not hundreds, we have thousands," added the black-turbaned sheikh to chants of "Zionists wait, wait, Hizbollah are coming." Israel massed tanks and artillery on its border with Lebanon on Friday and security sources in Lebanon said Lebanese troops and Hizbollah guerrillas went on alert as the Israeli armored column advanced to the border. The massing of troops came after guerrillas fired several volleys of Katyusha rockets into the Jewish state in retaliation. Israeli aircraft blasted a Hizbollah (Party of God) training camp in eastern Lebanon's Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley before dawn Thursday, killing at least 26 guerrillas and wounding dozens. Foreign Minister Faris Bouez put the death toll at 45. Marching amid a sea of black, red or yellow flags the crowd, men in black T-shirts and women in black head-to-toe Islamic chadours, beat their chests and chanted "Death does not terrorize us" and "We want to fight, we want to fight." Nasrallah answered them: "This, we will allow you to do." Watching the coffins draped in yellow Hizbollah flags and carried over heads, one militant who identified himself as Ali said: "Those who fell are our brothers and comrades ... Israel hurt us with this strike but we will serve it a harder blow." Burning an American and an Israeli flag, the mourners shouted "Death to America, Death to Israel" -- the standard cries of the militants. The highest toll in a single Israeli raid suffered by the Shi'ite fundamentalist group formed after Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 came only 12 days after helicopter-borne Israeli commandos snatched Moslem militant leader Mustapha al-Dirani from his Bekaa home. "This is war, one day for you and another day against you," Nasrallah told the rally. "Maybe the days that passed were against us but many days will be in our favor by the fists of the mujahedin." Putting up a brave front, the young militant said: "Never has the falling of martyrs been a reason for our frustration or defeat ... After this stream of blood, we are more determined to continue the march until victory." Nasrallah urged the Lebanese government to pull out of peace talks with Israel.