Israeli ministers use Der Spiegel’s Hariri story to knock Hizballah
A senior Israel intelligence official criticized Israel ministers for jumping on the German “Der Spiegel” report which claimed that the UN tribunal on the case of the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese PM Hariri had new evidence implicating Hizballah leader Nasrallah rather than Syria.
The official was speaking to debkafile.
At the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, May 24, defense minister Ehud Barak commented that Hizballah was an Iranian arm and negative influence. He hoped the Lebanese people would draw the right conclusions – a hint at the general election in two weeks.
Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman called for an international arrest warrant to be issued against Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah for complicity in the Hariri murder.
The two comments hinged on an unconfirmed press report which referred to the “new evidence” as being eight cell phones. debkafile notes a) that the cell phones were revealed in 2006 and b) they proved the opposition of Der Spiegel’s contention.
The cell phones in the possession of the assassins were used for calls to the secret forward command set up by Syrian military intelligence a few streets away from the scene of the mighty explosion in which the former Lebanese prime minister and at least 20 others were killed. They were registered under fictitious names. Since the German paper does not identify the users, its “new evidence” contributes nothing new to the investigation.
Furthermore, absolving Syrian president Bashar Assad and Syrian military intelligence chief, his brother-in-law Gen. Asif Shawqat of complicity in the crime suggests that the sources of the leak to the German newspaper had their own political agenda.
In jumping opportunistically on a dubious report the two Israeli ministers therefore served an unknown foreign interest’s disinformation campaign. The Israeli government would be better served by stating frankly that it will assess its policies towards its northern neighbor should Lebanon fall into the hands of the radical bloc led by Hizballah, an acclaimed foe and hostile proxy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Israel cannot afford Lebanon’s transformation into an Iranian outpost.