Just like the Uncle Remus character Brer Rabbit, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah also popped briefly out of his ‘rabbit hole’ yesterday to attend a special rally to commemorate the annual Shiite Muslim Ashoura holiday on Saturday. Surrounded by more security guards than even George Bush, the Sheikh made his way to a special podium where he addressed an enthusiastic crowd of thousands of his followers, complete with more than a few harsh words to the Israel government.
In fact, his words did get to Israeli officials in Jerusalem, especially involving the Sheikh’s willingness to trade what he claims are body parts of Israel soldiers for Hezbollah dead and captured militants still in Israeli hands. And judging from the amount of bodyguards surrounding him, including a crowd of at least 200,000, Nasrallah is very much aware that he definitely has a “price on his head”.
But again like that mischievous fictional character in American writer Joel Chandler Harris’s children’s books, ole “Brer Nasrallah” has a few tricks up his sleeves as well. He has to have, as he was a definite target in July, 2006 when Israeli warplanes dumped several tons of smart bombs on where he was thought to be hiding in south Beirut. He obviously wasn’t home at the time, and his whereabouts were a matter of mass speculation which give his proposed location as being in a number of places, including Damascus.
Nasrallah has tried to make deals before, most of which were more bluff than huff. The last major exchange was in 2003 when three dead Israeli soldiers and one live civilian, Elkana Tenenbaum were returned to Israel in exchange for over a 1,000 Hezbollah and Lebanese men.
Nasrallah may be deciding though that enough is enough regarding his continuing to live underground. And agreeing to another large scale deal with Israel, including possibly the two captured IDF reserve soldiers Eldad Regev and Udi Goldwasser, it might be enough in his favor to allow the Sheikh to come out of the “brier patch”. It must be a real drag living underground for so long, and seeing the sunshine and so many of his adoring fans much have been a real adrenalin rush for Hassan. Whatever deal is finally worked out won’t vindicate the Sheikh’s actions in the eyes of Israelis however, as virtually everyone south of the (Lebanese) border would like to see his “head on a pike”. And it wouldn’t be surprising if a lot of non-Hezbollah Lebanese wouldnâ€™t mind seeing him out of the way as well.
But getting to him is probably more elusive than Brer Fox getting to Brer Rabbit. And like Uncle Remus said about Brer Fox’s chances to have rabbit stew , so are the chances to flush the Shiekh out of wherever he is hold up.