'IDF must up anti-smuggling efforts'

Foreign diplomats: Refusal to share intelligence harms anti-smuggling efforts.

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February 5, 2007 03:29
2 minute read.
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While Israel complains arms are being smuggled to Hizbullah across the Syrian-Lebanese border, it is not providing the international community with the documentation to prove it, senior US and European officials have told The Jerusalem Post. According to the officials, intelligence information regarding what is being smuggled across the border would aid international efforts to stop the phenomenon, since UN Security Council Resolution 1701 explicitly states that there should be "no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government."

  • Syria says it foiled arms shipment Uncovering and documenting the smuggling activity would give the international community good ammunition to stop it, one Western diplomatic official said. The senior US and EU officials said Israel had not provided sufficient intelligence to back up claims that Hizbullah has largely rearmed since the war in the summer, thanks to the smuggling. Israeli diplomatic officials, meanwhile, said there were long-standing battles with the IDF over declassifying intelligence, with the political echelon often wanting to share information, and the IDF being much more reluctant to do so. A high-ranking source in the IDF's Foreign Liaison Unit - responsible for contacts with embassies and foreign militaries - said that Military Intelligence, under Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, was the main obstacle to the transfer of intelligence information. "This is a daily battle between us and Military Intelligence," said the officer. "This information is vital for Israel to be able to convince foreign militaries why it is necessary for us to continue flying over Lebanon." The IDF takes dignitaries, diplomats, military attaches and United Nations officials on weekly tours of the Blue Line international border between Israel and Lebanon. "We want them to see up close how Hizbullah flags are back on the border," said the Foreign Liaison Unit source. In December, the IDF hosted 10 European ambassadors and military attaches at the Ramat David Air Force base in the North and presented them with briefings concerning the overflights Israel conducts in Lebanon. At the time, the IDF said the diplomats were presented with classified intelligence showing convoys of weapons being smuggled into Lebanon from Syria. But a diplomat who participated in the event told the Post recently that the information they were presented with was only "partial" and that it was not fully clear that weapons were being smuggled into Lebanon at the rate the IDF claimed. A top officer in the Northern Command harshly criticized the IDF's policy against declassifying documents, saying Israel needed to do its utmost to get European countries on its side before the next round of violence. "There are predictions that there will be a new war by the summer," the Northern Command source said. "By not sharing the information, we are not only making it difficult to prevent the next war but also to rally the international community to Israel's cause." Military Intelligence refused to comment and the IDF Spokesperson's Office released a statement saying "We refuse to respond to statements made by unnanmed officials."

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