WikiLeaks: Ashkenazi blamed Hizbullah for envoy attack

In June, 2009 Hizbullah had completed plans for 3rd attack to avenge Mughniyeh; Gilad: Hizbullah stronger than Syrian military.

December 8, 2010 11:51
2 minute read.
IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi

Ashkenazi 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Hizbullah was involved in the January bombing attack on the convoy of Israel’s ambassador to Jordan, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told a top United Nations official, according to an American diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks on Wednesday.

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

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

The cable summarized a meeting between UN envoy to Lebanon Michael Williams at the US embassy in Beirut during which he provided a brief on talks he had held recently in Israel.

Williams said that in his talk with Ashkenazi and other Israeli officials he heard “repeated worries” about the possibility that Hizbullah will obtain anti-aircraft missiles or act on its standing threat to retaliate for the assassination of Mughniyeh.

Williams expressed concern that if another rocket attack were to occur - whether by Palestinian terrorists or Hizbullah - Israel would respond forcefully and “everything we’ve worked for could go away in as little 12 hours.”

In a cable from half a year earlier in June, 2009, a top Israeli officials told Fred Hof, Special Advisor for Regional Affairs in the office of Special Envoy Mitchell, that Israel had already thwarted two attacks by Hizbullah to avenge Mughniyeh’s death and that it had obtained “sensitive intelligence” that it 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 Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah had, at the time, not yet decided whether to give the order to carry it out, despite Iranian pressure to launch the attack.

Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic-Security Bureau, told Hof that the Israeli defense establishment assessed 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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