Israel Wants EU to Decry Hezbollah

Sweeping assertions by Israeli officials regarding their certainty about the authorship of a bus bombing in Bulgaria last week – pinning it first on Iran and then Hezbollah – may not be backed up by solid intelligence, but it may help rally European condemnation, writes Gareth Porter for Inter Press Service.

By Gareth Porter

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim on Sunday of absolutely reliable intelligence linking Hezbollah to the bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria, last week was apparently aimed at supporting his government’s determination to get the European Union to declare Hezbollah a terrorist state.

The Netanyahu claim in interviews on Fox News Sunday and on CBS Face the Nation of “rock solid” intelligence on the bombing was accompanied by an announcement that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would travel to Brussels on Monday to meet with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and foreign ministers of nine EU member states to persuade them to put Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations.

A nighttime view of Burgas, Bulgaria, a popular Black Sea resort where Israeli tourists were targeted in a bus-bomb attack.

Netanyahu, who usually emphasizes Iran’s role in terrorism, focused primarily on Hezbollah’s alleged culpability. Unlike the United States, the EU has never officially considered Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization, but Netanyahu believes that pinning the Bulgarian bombing on Hezbollah gives him political leverage on the EU to change that. Lieberman was quoted Sunday as saying the bombing in Bulgaria “has changed the way in which Hezbollah is seen”.

For months, Netanyahu has been building a case that Iran has been carrying out a worldwide campaign of terrorism. That narrative is based, however, on a systematic and highly successful Israeli campaign of shaping the news coverage of a series of murky allegations about terrorist actions or efforts in Baku, Tibilisi, Bangkok and Delhi, and into stories fitting neatly into the overall narrative. Netanyahu used sweeping language about the alleged intelligence underlying his charge that Hezbollah carried out the Bulgarian tourist bombing, but refused to offer any further information to back it up.

In the interview on Fox News Sunday, Netanyahu said, “We know with absolute certainty, without a shadow of a doubt that this is a Hezbollah operation.” But despite being asked by interviewer Chris Wallace for some indication of the nature of the intelligence, he would say only that information had been shared with “friendly agencies.”

When the heads of Mossad and Shin Bet, Tamir Pardo and Yoram Cohen, briefed the Israeli cabinet Sunday on those agencies’ efforts against what were described as Iranian and Hezbollah plans for terrorism in more than 20 countries, they were not reported to have presented hard intelligence supporting the claim of Hezbollah responsibility for the Bulgarian bombing.

If the Israeli government did share intelligence information on Hezbollah and the Bulgarian bombing with the Central Intelligence Agency as Netanyahu claimed, it did not register with the senior U.S. officials on July 19. When a “senior U.S. official” was quoted by the New York Times that day confirming the Israeli assertion that the bomber who carried out the operation was “a member of a Hezbollah cell operating in Bulgaria,” he was apparently merely making assumptions rather than relying on any hard evidence.

Also on July 19, Pentagon press secretary George Little said, “I don’t know that anybody has assessed attribution for this cowardly action.” On July 20, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration was “not in a position to make a statement about responsibility.”

Netanyahu declared immediately after the news of the Bulgarian bus bombing July 18 that Iran was responsible for the attack. In support of the charge, he cited recent alleged terrorist incidents in a number of other countries. “All the signs lead to Iran,” he said. But Netanyahu offered no proof, and the Israeli Embassy in Washington acknowledged to CNN on July 19 that it had no proof that Iran was the instigator of the attack.

Netanyahu also argued in his Fox News interview as well as in an appearance on CBS Face the Nation that an Iran/Hezbollah connection to the bombing of the Israeli tourist bus could be reasonably inferred from a Hezbollah terrorist plan that had been discovered in Cyprus only a week earlier. “The whole world can see who it is,” said Netanyahu on Fox News Sunday. “You would have known or been able to surmise it from Cyprus a week ago.” A “Hezbollah operative” in Cyprus was caught planning “exactly the same attack, exactly the same modus operandi,” he said.

But the case to which Netanyahu referred is much less clear-cut than his dramatic description. In fact, it is unclear who the alleged Hezbollah operative really is and what he was actually doing in Cyprus. The 24-year-old Lebanese man with a Swedish passport was arrested in his hotel room in Limossol July 7 – just two days after he had arrived in the country — following an urgent message sent to Cyprus from Israeli intelligence that the man intended to carry out attacks, according to Haaretz on July 14.

The Israeli press have portrayed the unnamed Lebanese as “collecting information for a terror attack” being planned by Hezbollah (Israel Hayom) and as identifying the “vulnerabilities that would allow for maximal damage among a group of Israeli tourists in their first hours on Cyprus ” (Ynet News).

But those descriptions may not reflect what the Lebanese man was actually doing. A senior Cypriot official told Reuters a week after he was taken into custody, “It is not clear what, or whether, there was a target in Cyprus.” And other Cypriot authorities were reported by the Cyprus Mail on July 20 and by Associated Press Monday to have said they believe the man was acting alone.

The Cypriot Greek-language newspaper Phileftheros reported that he was found with information on tour buses carrying Israeli passengers, a list of places favored by Israeli tourists, and flight information on Israeli airlines that land in Cyprus, suggesting that he planned to detonate explosives on board a plane or bus. But despite an intensive search, no indication has been found that the man is linked to any explosives.

A lone individual arrested in his hotel room without any explosives hardly presents a close parallel to the bus bombing in Burgas. Contrary to Netanyahu’s breathless description of what happened in Cyprus, the arrest may turn out to have been an overreaction by Mossad to unconfirmed information the agency had obtained three months earlier that someone might be interested in harming Israeli tourists in Cyprus, reported by Ynet News on July 15.

Details that have emerged about the cases of Lebanese and Iranian citizens arrested at the insistence of Mossad in Thailand in January and Kenya in June also suggest that sensational press accounts of alleged terrorist plans by the suspects inspired by the Israelis may have been highly distorted, and that the individuals arrested may turn out not to be terrorists at all.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. [This article originally appeared at Inter Press Service.]


  14 comments for “Israel Wants EU to Decry Hezbollah

  1. Borat
    July 25, 2012 at 10:56 am

    You’ve got to be kidding! Hezbollah is a terrorist organization supported by Iran period.

    • John
      July 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      Excuse me Borat, but wasn’t the foundations of Israel created by terrorists to the point where the British, major targets of the gangs, just wanted to get out. Letter bombs were sent to political people of the opposite persuasion to the Zionists. Several Israeli prime-ministers were terrorists and even involved in massacres.
      As for Hezbollah, it was a born through a function of Israeli and Western desires for a Christian nation though Muslims were the great majority, and more importantly by the Israeli invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon. I wonder if that was a Zionist plot to hold the land up to the Litani River which was asked for during partitioning of Palestine but they never got it. Hezbollah has not been proved guilty of any atrocity outside of Lebanon, except for an incursion over the border to capture some Israeli soldiers on the Israeli-Lebanon border, which they hoped to use in a prisoner swap for Hezbollah men Israel had held for an inordinate length of time and Israel was refusing to negotiate over.
      Why don’t you look in a mirror and see that no people have a monopoly on goodness and badness. What happened to Jews in the past is no reason for them to treat the indigenous people of Palestine the way they do (bad water, crop burning, house demolition, arrest and imprisonment without trial, massacres (Sabra Shatila – granted by Israeli allies but well known results to Sharon, and other killings too), etc). When Western immigation to Israel was insufficient to hold onto the occupied lands, US secrets were passed onto the Russians (via Pollard and others) in exchange for Russian Jewish immigation to Israel. To what point will a religious idea be used to exploit others for a political dream ?!

      • borat
        July 25, 2012 at 8:14 pm

        more arab apologist drivel

        • July 25, 2012 at 11:29 pm

          Niv Elis: ‘My grandfather is a Jewish terrorist’

          Niv Elis is a Breaking News Editor and blogger for the Israel daily Jerusalem Post. Niv’s grandfather, Feivel Eliash (born 1921), a Polish Jew, was among the group of Jewish terrorists who blew-up Jerusalem’s King David Hotel on July 22, 1946. The terrorist-bombing killed 92 Arab, British, Greek, Armenian and Jewish civilians and wounded 58. Feivel Eliash was a member of European Jewish militant group, Irgun Tzvai Leumi, headed by Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin.

        • boron
          July 26, 2012 at 12:25 am

          more likud apologist drivel.

          • Borat
            July 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm

            I guess those thousands of rockets from Lebanon were launched by Israelis invited by Hezbollah.

          • July 26, 2012 at 9:15 pm

            And I guess the 25 Israeli tank destroyed by Hizbullah rockets were driven by American Seals!!!

  2. F. G. Sanford
    July 25, 2012 at 11:30 am

    The problem is, like the old saying, “Lies have long legs. The lie is half way around the world before the truth gets its pants on.” By pimping Chris Wallace as a ‘useful idiot’, Netanyahu has already won the first round in the propaganda battle. Of course, one must consider that Wallace may have been willfully exploited. If if comes to pass that subsequent information refutes Netanyahu’s claims, don’t hold your breath waiting for Wallace to do a follow-up revising the ‘rush to judgment’. Netanyahu will already have what he wanted: a plausible American misconception from a “trusted name in news”. These are such old propaganda tricks. Dr. Goebbels must be laughing his ass off somewhere out there in the ‘Great Beyond’. The line that really cracks me up is, “We shared the information with relevant agencies”. I’m sure they did. That’s double-speak for, “We told them the same lies I’m telling you, and they haven’t called our bluff”. Unless our media starts to do real journalism, this will continue. But they’re not paid to do that. There’s a story out now on the net about all the media agencies submitting their stories for “Quote Approval” to the appropriate agencies. Rand, Brookings, CFR, campaign managers, press secretaries, etc. determine what hits the wire services. Now that there are only six corporations (reference: Dan Rather) controlling all the media outlets, we’re kinda screwed. The last two bastions of our checks and balances, a free press and an independent judiciary, have fallen to corporate control. The apparent multiplicity of agencies involved lends credibility to the illusion of choice. This is the great advantage of oligarchy. Instead of being controlled by one lunatic dictator with a schizophrenic personality, we are manipulated by a coterie of lunatics. The difference is, they don’t all occupy the same body. The product is something that looks like consensus rather than insanity. It’s a new twist on mass manipulation. I’m not sure if many of the perpetrators are even aware of their complicity. We shall have to wait and see.

  3. July 25, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    “Israel does not know how to beat Hezbollah,” Gen. Giora Eiland, former national security adviser to former prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert.

  4. incontinent reader
    July 26, 2012 at 12:35 am

    WIth so many Mossad black flag operations and targeted assassinations- recently so openly recounted in Yossi Melman’s questionable book- it’s hard to know where to start. Maybe, the EU will not only deny this latest demand, but also find the Mossad (and Netanyahu) a terrorist organization (and terrorist organ).

  5. July 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanese Islamic Resistance Hizbullah said on Wednesday that following its defeat in July 2006 , the Zionist entity had changed tactics to focus on trying to destroy Hezbollah through a “soft war” to turn Arabs against each other. He urged supporters to return to faith (Islam) as that was the primary source of party’s victory over Israel army in 2000 and 2006.

    “30 years later, this is why we’re still strong and sustainable, our faith. No one truly understands this faith – not our enemies and not our friends because they have different values,” he added.

  6. borat
    July 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm


    Description: This yellow symbol features a green central image with the Arabic lettering for “Hezbollah,” which translates into English as “the Party of God.” A fist rises from the letters clutching an AK-47. Below the rifle are a Qur’an, a globe and a seven-leafed branch. The red Arabic script above the rifle reads, “the party of God, they are the triumphant ones.” The red Arabic text below the central image reads, “the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon.”

    Explanation: The central letters and images are depicted in green, a color that has represented Islam since the days of the Prophet Muhammad. The rifle symbolizes Hezbollah’s commitment to an armed struggle, while the globe represents the organization’s international activities. The Qur’an highlights Hezbollah’s goal to establish an Islamic state that encompasses Lebanon and Israel, as well as the group’s foundation in Islam. The Arabic script above the rifle – “the party of God, they are the triumphant ones” – is a Qur’anic verse that lauds those who are loyal to Allah and the Prophet Muhammad.

    Hezbollah (Arabic for “the Party of God”) is a Lebanese-based terrorist organization that seeks to establish an Islamic state encompassing both Lebanon and Israel. Hezbollah emerged during Israel’s first war against Lebanon in 1982 with the help of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Iran’s elite military unit.

    Hezbollah has waged an anti-Israel campaign and guerilla war against Israeli forces since its emergence in 1982. Hezbollah has also been implicated in numerous terrorist attacks against Western targets, including the 1983 bombings at the U.S. Embassy and the multinational force barracks in Beirut. Hezbollah is also responsible for the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which a U.S. Navy diver was killed, and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 American servicemen.

    Hezbollah’s ongoing campaign against Israel erupted in July 2006 when Hezbollah operatives killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two others stationed in Israeli sovereign territory. In response to the attack, Israeli forces launched a series of strikes intended to remove the Hezbollah threat from its border and cripple the military capabilities of the terrorist organization.

    Since the end the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, who has served as Hezbollah’s leader since 1992, has threatened that Hezbollah has rebuilt and improved its rocket and missiles arsenal. Additionally, Nasrallah and members of Hezbollah have increasingly become politically active and are represented by elected deputies in Lebanon’s cabinet and parliament.

    Focus of Operations
    Lebanon, Israel, West Bank, Gaza, Syria. Hezbollah also operates fundraising networks throughout North and Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

    Major Attacks

    July 12, 2006: Hezbollah operatives kill eight Israeli soldiers and kidnap two others stationed in Israeli sovereign territory. The soldiers’ remains are returned to Israel in July 2008.
    March 12, 2002: Shooting attack against Israeli vehicles near the Israeli-Lebanese border: six killed, seven injured.
    October 7, 2000: Hezbollah operatives abduct an Israeli businessman and three Israeli soldiers patrolling Israel’s border with Lebanon. The soldiers’ remains and the businessman are returned to Israel in 2004.
    June 25, 1996: Truck bombing at the U.S. portion of the Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia: 19 American Air Force personnel killed, 372 injured.
    July 18, 1994: Suicide bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires: 85 killed, approximately 300 injured.
    March 17, 1992: Suicide bombing at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires: 29 killed, more than 240 injured.
    June 14, 1985: Hijacking of TWA Flight 847: U.S. Navy diver killed.
    September 20, 1984: Car bombing of the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut: 24 killed.
    December 4, 1984: Hijacking of Kuwait Airlines plane: four killed.
    April 12, 1984: Bombing of a restaurant near the U.S. Air Force Base in Torrejon, Spain: 18 U.S. servicemen killed, 83 injured.
    October 23, 1983: Truck bombing at the multinational force barracks in Beirut: 241 American military personnel killed, 58 French paratroopers killed.
    April 18, 1983: Suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut: 63 killed (including 17 Americans).


    Founder: Ali Akbar Motashemi
    Secretary General: Hasan Nasrallah
    Deputy Secretary General: Naim Qassem
    Former Secretary General: Abbas Musawi (killed in a car bombing in southern Lebanon on February 16, 1992)
    Former Secretary General: Shubhi al-Tufayli
    Former Operations Chief: Imad Mughniyah (killed in a car bombing in Damascus on February 13, 2008)
    Former Spiritual Leader: Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah (deceased July 4, 2010)

    Hezbollah espouses an extremist interpretation of Shi’i Islam that was promulgated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In recent years, Hezbollah has emerged in Lebanon as a political entity by serving as a proponent of Shi’i interests in the electoral process.

    Hezbollah was originally formed to drive the Israeli military out of southern Lebanon and to establish an Islamic state encompassing Lebanon and Israel. According to its 1985 platform, the conflict with Israel “is not only limited to the IDF presence in Lebanon” but to “the complete destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of Islamic rule over Jerusalem.”

    Hezbollah pioneered the use of suicide bombings in the Middle East. In recent years, Hezbollah has launched rocket attacks and favored paramilitary operations and kidnappings against civilian and military targets.

    Iran’s elite military unit – the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – supports Hezbollah with training, weapons and financial support. The IRGC’s special operations branch provides Hezbollah with $100-$200 million in funding every year and has allegedly trained Hezbollah fighters in various military tactics, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

    Hezbollah also receives diplomatic, political and logistical support from Syria, according to the U.S. State Department. Syria reportedly supplies Hezbollah with a quarter of the terrorist organization’s arsenal of mid-and long-range missiles.

    Hezbollah maintains an operational presence in the U.S. that uses funds raised through criminal activities to help finance the organization’s terrorist activities. Hezbollah also maintains an extensive infrastructure throughout Europe that provides logistical and financial support and has garnered funds through front companies in Africa and the regional diamond trade. Additionally, the terrorist group raises revenues in Latin America through drug-trafficking, money laundering, forging travel documents and weapons and people smuggling.

    U.S.-Related Activities

    Several Americans have been indicted or convicted on terrorism charges for attempting to provide Hezbollah with funds, military equipment and electronics.

    Hezbollah maintains an operational presence in the U.S. that raises funds through criminal activities – including credit card fraud, illegal drug trade, cigarette smuggling and theft – to help finance the organization’s terrorist activities abroad.

    In December 2004, the U.S. State Department designated Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s satellite television channel and broadcast station, as a terrorist entity and placed it on the Terrorism Exclusion List in December 2004. Two years later, the U.S. Treasury Department added Al-Manar, along with its parent company, the Lebanese Media Group, to its Specially Designated Global Terrorist List.

    The U.S. designated Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997 following the series of Hezbollah attacks against Americans overseas. Hezbollah was listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2001.

    Prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Hezbollah was responsible for the deaths of more Americans around the world than any other terrorist organization. In the 1980s, Hezbollah carried out a series of terrorist attacks against Americans overseas, including attacks at the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon and a military housing complex in Saudi Arabi.

  7. July 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Isn’t Israel the paradigm for terrorism adopted by other oppressed ethnic groups subsequent to 1945?

  8. borat
    July 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    You far left arabist thugs always castigate Israel. What about the oppressed Jews who lived in Arab countries that Israel took in after they were expelled. Who perpetrated 9/11, homicide bombings, women/children as human shields, state/school sponsored antisemitism, stonings, beheadings, the list is endless.

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