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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Aug 11th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Israel fears Iran may ship Hezbollah arms via Beirut port
Israel fears Iran may ship Hezbollah arms via Beirut port PDF Print E-mail
Written by Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent   
Monday, 14 April 2008


According to the Israeli government source, Hezbollah has placed two thirds of these rockets south of the Litani River in the area under UNIFIL control, where the organization is not allowed to operate.


Israel fears Iran may ship Hezbollah arms via Beirut port 
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent

Israel is concerned that Iran might start moving weapons to Hezbollah by means of ships that anchor in the Beirut port, government sources in Jerusalem said.

The sources said oversight of marine vessels by UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) was not efficient enough to enforce an embargo on weapons shipments into Lebanon and to pinpoint such shipments.

A government source in Jerusalem said Saturday that a year ago Israel transmitted to Germany, which at that time commanded UNIFIL's marine forces, that it suspected Iran would transfer weapons to Hezbollah by sea. The source said Israel voiced its concerns over the marine forces' insufficient control over the coast, and that Germany promised to increase its supervision.
"The problem is that UNIFIL's checks are not strict enough and are simply not serious," the source said. He said that UNIFIL soldiers do not physically examine the cargo in suspicious vessels, making do with comparing the vessel's name and registration number to the registration of the ships in the Beirut port.

"We are afraid that many ships registered in the port as carrying certain cargo are in fact carrying cargo of a totally different kind," the source said.

A response from UNIFIL could not be obtained over the weekend.

Iran concedes that it provides moral support and money to Hezbollah, but denies supplying it with weapons, which would be in violation of a UN resolution.

The Israel Defense Forces said last month that Iran is sending Hezbollah weapons by means of planes and trucks, passing through Turkish territory without the knowledge of the government in Ankara, and from there to Syria and Lebanon.

In the two years since the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has been working to rehabilitate itself and increase its strength. The organization has considerably increased the number of rockets in its possession, and it now has tens of thousands of them.

According to the Israeli government source, Hezbollah has placed two thirds of these rockets south of the Litani River in the area under UNIFIL control, where the organization is not allowed to operate.

Over the past month, Israel has been lobbying in the UN to promote the release of a presidential statement by the Security Council regarding the ongoing smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah despite the arms embargo. However, the lack of consensus among the countries on the Security Council, along with American and French concerns over a worsening of the political crisis in Lebanon, have impeded progress on the statement.

About a month ago, responsibility for UNIFIL's marine forces was transferred from Germany to Italy. The marine force has been operating since October 2006, when European gun boats began patroling Lebanon's territorial waters, allowing Israel to lift the sea blockade it had enforced upon the outbreak of the war.

When the force, which consists of 11 ships and works closely alongside the Lebanese navy, locates a suspicious vessel, it sends it to be checked by the Lebanese authorities, usually at the Beirut port. The force has so far preliminarily checked 13,000 vessels, but has sent only 70 suspicious ones for comprehensive examination by the Lebanese authorities.


Iran rearming Hezbollah via Turkey, MI says 
By Barak Ravid 

Iran is arming Hezbollah with missiles sent via Turkey, according to intelligence received in Israel. Turkish authorities are unaware of the arms shipments, which are in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 that brought an end to the Second Lebanon War.

A senior Israeli government source said that Brigadier General Yossi Beiditz, head of the Israel Defense Forces research department, last week told European Union ambassadors in a briefing that Iran continues to transfer arms and equipment to Hezbollah, in spite of Tehran's denials.  Advertisement

Some of the weapons include long-range missiles that are being transfered through flights using Turkey's airspace, as well as overland though Turkey, under the guise of civilian cargo. From Turkey, the missiles are transfered to Syria and then Lebanon. Turkey has not permitted the use of its territory for such transfers.

The same source said that according to Beiditz, some of the missiles Iran transfered to Hezbollah have a maximum range of 300 kilometers, "capable of reaching the Dimona area from Beirut." According to intelligence so far available to Israel, the maximum range of missiles in Hezbollah's arsenal had been 250 kilometers.

Beiditz said that the missiles currently in Hezbollah's possession are more accurate and capable of carrying larger warheads.

There was no comment from the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv concerning this information. However, a Turkish source noted that the embassy has not received any information or inquiries from official Israeli sources regarding the matter of weapons transfers to Hezbollah crossing through Turkish territory.

According to the source, Turkey has "adhered to all international decisions, with an emphasis on the arms embargo to Lebanon." He added, however, that Turkey and Israel share intelligence information on other levels, outside the embassy.

In May 2007, Turkey confiscated a load of weapons that included 300 rockets, transferred from Iran by train through Turkey. The cargo was registered as "cleaning materials."

During the Second Lebanon War, the Turkish media reported that Turkish authorities had forced two Iranian aircraft, on their way to Syria through Turkish airspace, to land because of suspicions that they were carrying unauthorized arms shipments. No weapons were found on board.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent the periodic report on the implementation of Resolution 1701 to the Security Council yesterday. According to the report, Israel maintains that Hezbollah has replenished its missile arsenal and currently holds tens of thousands of long-range rockets along with 20,000 shorter-range ones.

During the Second Lebanon War, the radical Shi'ite organization fired about 4,000 rockets into Israel.

The report called on Syria and Iran to behave responsibly and in line with the embargo on exporting arms to Lebanon.

The UN report is also critical of Israel's intelligence-gathering overflights in Lebanon, and the UN chief expressed concern at the anger that these flights spark.

"The repeated violations, on the part of Israel, undermine the credibility of UNIFIL and of the Lebanese army in the eyes of the local population and is preventing them from carrying out their role," the report states.

According to the Israeli government source, during his briefing to EU ambassadors, Beiditz said that the official position of Israel is that the intelligence-gathering flights are of particular importance, and he showed videos filmed by various aircraft documenting the smuggling of missiles from Syria into Lebanon.

"Without the overflights it will be difficult for Israel to pinpoint the launchers, the Hezbollah arms depots and the smuggling," the source said.

During the briefing, Beiditz was asked about Israel's assessment of Hezbollah's response to last month's assassination of terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyah in Damascus. Beiditz said that it is difficult to tell, but noted that while the group's leaders are calling for revenge and blame Israel, there are many variables that are forcing Hezbollah to exhibit restraint. 


Related articles:

  • Hezbollah: We're ready for war with Israel, but we won't start it
  • Iran rearming Hezbollah via Turkey, MI says
  • U.S. alleges Iran using Lebanese Hezbollah as 'proxy' in Iraq
  • Report: Nasrallah admits Iran supplies Hezbollah with arms

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