IDF chief: Hizbullah plotted attack on envoy to Jordan

WikiLeaks: In June, 2009 Hizbullah had completed plans for 3rd attack to avenge Mughniyeh; Gilad: Group a more effective fighting force than Syrian army.

December 9, 2010 03:54
2 minute read.
IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi

Ashkenazi 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Hizbullah was involved in January’s bombing attack on the convoy of Ambassador to Jordan Jacob Rosenne, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told a top UN official, according to a US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks on Wednesday.

This was the first cable that mentioned a meeting with Ashkenazi.

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No one was wounded in the attack, which took place not far from the Allenby Bridge. Israeli intelligence at the time assessed the attack was likely the handiwork of Hizbullah, which was seeking to avenge the 2008 assassination of its military commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus, attributed to the Mossad.

The cable summarized a meeting with UN envoy to Lebanon Michael Williams at the US Embassy in Beirut during which he briefed American officials on talks he had held recently in Israel.

Williams said that in his talks with Ashkenazi and other Israeli officials he heard “repeated worries” about the possibility that Hizbullah would obtain anti-aircraft missiles or act on its threat to retaliate for the assassination of Mughniyeh. Williams expressed concern that if another rocket was fired at Israel from Lebanon – whether by Palestinian terrorists or Hizbullah – Israel would respond in force and “everything we’ve worked for could go away in as little as 12 hours.”

In a cable from half a year earlier in June 2009, a top Israeli official told Fred Hof, special adviser for regional affairs in the office of US special envoy Mitchell, that Israel had already thwarted two attacks by Hizbullah designed to avenge Mughniyeh’s death and had obtained “sensitive intelligence” that the Shi’ite group had completed operational planning for a third attack outside Israel.

According to Nimrod Barkan, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Political Research Division at the time, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah had not yet decided whether to order the attack carried out, despite Iranian pressure to do so.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic-Security Bureau, told Hof that the Israeli defense establishment assessed that Syria might be serious about detaching itself from Iran and withdrawing support for Hizbullah in exchange for reconciliation with the West, especially the US, as well as the return of the Golan Heights, Gilad said, because Iran was a marriage of convenience for Syria. “He believes Syria would much rather be close to their fellow Arabs and the rest of the international community, if given the chance,” the cable read.

Gilad warned, however, that even if it wanted to, Syria would find difficulty in extricating itself from its alliance with Iran and Hizbullah. “Hizbullah is now an integral part of Syria’s defense concept, and is a more effective fighting force than the Syrian army,” Gilad was quoted as saying in the meeting.

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