December 14, 2010
By Barak Ravid
According to leaked U.S. cables, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told the United Nations’ envoy to Lebanon in January that Israel holds information pointing to Hezbollah involvement in the attack on an Israeli diplomatic convoy in Jordan.
The attack was apparently part of a Hezbollah response to the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, a militant commander killed in Damascus in 2008. Hezbollah has accused Israel for that attack.
Newly released WikiLeaks cables indicate that Israel warned U.S. and international officials of a serious response to any Hezbollah attack against Israeli targets abroad.
On January 29, 2010 the UN’s envoy to Lebanon Michael Williams met with the U.S. envoy in Beirut Michele Sison and informed her of his conversations with officials in Israel.
According to the cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Ashkenazi and Netanyahu’s advisers expressed concern that Hezbollah would want to respond to the Feburary 2008 assassination of the top Hezbollah man Imad Mughniyeh.
Assassinated Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh.
|Photo by: Wikipedia
“Ashkenazi said that Hezbollah was most probably involved in the attack on the Israeli diplomatic convoy in Jordan,” the cable read. Williams warned the U.S. envoy that if there were to be another rocket attack on Israel from Lebanon, Israel will have to respond with magnified strength.
“UNIFIL will not be able to halt an escalation and everything that we have worked on would disappear within 12 hours,” Williams warned.
Moreover, another U.S. cable revealed that in June of 2009, Nimrod Barkan, the head of the Foreign Ministry’s Center for Political Research, and Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry’s political security department have cautioned against a Hezbollah attack as a response to Mughniyeh’s assassination.
Barkan said that Israel has already foiled two terror attacks by Hezbollah in foreign countries.
“We have sensitive information that Hezbollah has completed its operational preparations for a third attack against Israeli targets abroad,” said Barkan. “Until now, [Hezbollah head Hassan] Nasrallah hasn’t decided whether to carry out the attack or not, despite Iranian pressure to go through with the attack. Israel will see Lebanon’s government as responsible for any operation against Israel that comes from Lebanese territory.”
Amos Gilad also emphasized that Hezbollah displayed restraint despite the Iranian pressure. “The next round of attacks will include missiles on Tel Aviv,” said Gilad. “If that were to happen, the Israeli response would be very serious and include all of Lebanon.”
The assassination of Imad Mughniyeh was also noted in the cables sent from the U.S. embassy in Damascus. An official standing in for the U.S. envoy wrote on Feburary 28, 2008, several days following the assassination of Mughniyeh, that an internal blame war is taking place in Syria between the general intelligence and the military intelligence who are both blaming each other for the security breach which enabled the Mughniyeh assassination.
The U.S. embassy in Damascus reported in December of 2009 that the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Qassem Suleimani visited Damascus after a long period of tensions between Syria and Iran due to the assassination of Mughniyeh in Feburary 2008
In January 2010, an explosive device was detonated against a two-car convoy of Israeli diplomats in Jordan.
The explosion occurred as the diplomats, traveling in armored vehicles, were passing the town of Na’ur, about 20 kilometers from the Allenby Bridge, which they were planning to cross for a weekend in Israel.
Another U.S. cable WikiLeaks recently revealed portrays strong concern in the Arab world regarding the Hezbollah takeover of Lebanon in May of 2008.
A cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Riyadh reported a meeting between the U.S. envoy in Iraq David Satterfield and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal. The Saudi minister said that there is a need for a “security response” to Hezbollah’s attempt to challenge the Lebanese government.
Saud al-Faisal called for an ‘Arab force’ to be established which will maintain order in and around Beirut. He said the force must work with UNIFIL, and the U.S. and NATO would also have to provide support. Al-Faisal said that a Hezbollah victory means the end of the Lebanese government and the beginning of an Iranian takeover of Lebanon.