The Middle East is full of surprises, but they are rarely disconnected from events. This applies to the speech made by Hizballah secretary Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday May 25 which dredged up the past from 1992 in an allegation that the IDF while in Beirut, kidnapped four Iranian diplomats and is secretly holding them alive till this day in a jail in Israel.
He was not the first to resuscitate this old story. Monday May 23 the Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan brought it up, suddenly and surprisingly, in a special interview he gave to the Iranian news site Defa Press News.
General Dehqan said, “We claim on the basis of proofs that they are alive and in captivity by the Zionist regime.” He went on to say that, “the Israelis are responsible for the health of the Iranian diplomats.” He was referring to: charge d'affaires of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut Seyed Mohsen Mousavi, military attaché Ahmad Motevaselian, embassy technician Taghi Rastegar Moghadam, Islamic republic news agency Kazzem Akhavan.
Two days later, on Wednesday, while saying that ‘the resistance axis’ – meaning Iran-Syria-Hizballah – has not forgotten the Palestinian problem, Nasrallah said: “We have more land under Israeli occupation.” Nasrallah had a long orderly list of ‘occupied places’: Shaaba Farms, The Kfar Shouba Hills, meaning Har Dov, and Ghajar village. “We also have”, Nasrallah continued, “captives and missing people whose families still wait for their return.” And, “On the legal and ethical level, there is a Lebanese responsibility towards the four Iranian diplomats who were handed over to Israel.”
According to Nasrallah, just as the occupied lands must be returned, so must the Iranian diplomats be returned, first of all to Lebanon.
Nasrallah next turned to speak about the new Israeli Defense Minister calling him “crazy”.
Seven years ago, in 2009, German mediators were invited to broker a prisoner swap between Israel and Hizballah. They arranged for the bodies of the IDF soldiers: Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whom Hizballah abducted and murdered in 2006, to be returned. The Germans established that the four Iranian diplomats had never been by held by Israel but were captured by Christian Phalangists and were apparently executed by them.
This finding was never accepted by the Iranian Foreign Ministry who insisted that their four diplomats were still in Israeli captivity.
The Iranian Defense Minister and the Hizballah leader have obviously coordinated the resuscitation of the diplomats’ fate and intended to use it as a tool to justify military or terrorist action against Israel.
debkafile’s military and intelligence sources point to two reasons for the Iranian-Hizballah move:
- A first test for the new Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman. They want to determine his responses to aggression and establish the measure of his control of Israeli military deployments on the Syrian and Lebanese borders. His predecessor, Moshe Yaalon, was conversant with every detail of those deployments.
- Tehran and Hizballah, have publically admitted that Israel had no hand in the assassination of the Hizballah military leader in Syria, Mustafa Badr Al Din, near Damascus on May 13. But as a morale booster for Shiite forces in Syria they may resort to a strike against Israel, Saudi Arabia or Jordan, whom they believe complicit in the killing.
They estimate that Israel, with its new defense minister, is the most vulnerable target.