While still denying involvement in Lebanon, Iran sweetens the martyrdom deal with a paycheck to surviving relatives of Hizballah fighters. This runs contrary to Stephen Schwartz’s recent assertion that “Lebanese … Shias resent, are contemptuous of, and will not take dictation from Iranians.”
Meanwhile, Hizballah is scrambling to keep Lebanese papers from releasing information about the extent of the casualties it has sustained. From the New York Sun: “Iran Is Compensating Families of Hezbollah Dead”
Iran has set up a fund to compensate the families of Hezbollah fighters killed or wounded in the conflict with Israel, Lebanese security officials have disclosed.
Iran’s Shaheed Foundation is making initial payments of $1,000 to relatives, in a program that was originally set up in the 1980s to compensate the families of Iranian soldiers killed during the country’s eight-year war with Iraq.
Tehran is believed to have set aside $2 million for its Lebanon compensation fund, and further payments will be made to bereaved families when Iranian officials have assessed their needs.
Although Hezbollah has refused to make public the extent of the casualties it has suffered, Lebanese officials estimate that up to 500 fighters have been killed in the past three weeks of hostilities with Israel, and another 1,500 injured.
Lebanese officials have also disclosed that many of Hezbollah’s wounded are being treated in hospitals in Syria to conceal the true extent of the casualties. They are said to have been taken through al-Arissa border crossing with the help of Syrian
Iran’s compensation payments offer further proof of its close ties with Lebanon’s radical Shiite Muslim militia.
Although Tehran has denied having any direct involvement in the hostilities in southern Lebanon, Lebanese security officials say the Shaheed Foundation has sent a number of representatives from Iran to set up temporary offices in local schools and kindergartens “” closed for the summer holidays “” to assist with the payments. An estimated 20 commanders from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps are already based in Lebanon, helping Hezbollah with the Iranian-made rockets being fired into Israel.
Surely there is other office space, but this way, even during the summer holidays, any Israeli action against the Shaheed Foundation can be spun as action against civilian targets.
Iran has previously paid compensation to the families of Palestinian Arab suicide bombers who have hit Israeli targets.
Hezbollah’s operational council has drawn up casualty lists that have been passed to the Shaheed Foundation. Copies have been seen by the Daily Telegraph and have also been obtained by Lebanese newspapers, which have been pressured by Hezbollah not to publish them.
“Hezbollah is desperate to conceal its casualties because it wants to give the impression that it is winning its war,” a senior security official said. “People might reach a very different conclusion if they knew the true extent of Hezbollah’s