WikiLeaks: Lebanon army seized Hezbollah arms truck during 2006 war
Classified cables released by a Hezbollah-linked newspaper claim Christian leaders voiced support for Israel's attack on Hezbollah, hoping that such a move would weaken the militant group.
Newly released WikiLeaks cables reveal Lebanese Christian leaders supported Israel's strikes against Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War, Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper linked to Hezbollah, reported on Sunday. The paper added that the Lebanese Armed Forces confiscated a Hezbollah arms truck during the 2006 war.
One cable, describing a meeting between anti-Syria Christian leaders and U.S. officials dated August 7, 2006, quoted the Lebanese leaders as claiming that, while they supported the official call for a cease fire, they were also in favor of weakening Hezbollah.
According to the WikiLeaks cable, the Christian leaders told then U.S. envoy to Lebanon Jeff Feltman and Assistant Secretary of State David Welch that they would approve of another week or two of Israeli attacks against Hezbollah if it meant those actions would weaken the militant group.
They also told the U.S. officials to convince Israel to withdraw from the disputed Shebaa Farms area, so as to strengthen the government of then Lebanon Prime Minister Fuad Seniora and weaken Hezbollah's excuse to bear arms.
Among the Christian leaders mentioned in the cable are former Lebanese President Amine Gemayel, his son and Ministry of Industry Pierre Gemayel, Dori Shamoun, and others.
A second cable, depicting an August 8, 2006 meeting between Feltman and then Lebanese Minister of Defense Elias Murr, quoted Murr as claiming that LAF forces had stopped and seized a truck carrying Hezbollah missiles three days prior.
The defense minister was also quoted as claiming that the LAF would be able to reign in Hezbollah's assault on Israel, saying he could deploy 15,000 troops along the Israeli border in as soon as 12 hours.
Murr is also quoted as estimating that Hezbollah had fired approximately 3,000 rockets into Israel until that point, adding that Syria had equipped the militant group with another 2,500.
The release of the WikiLeaks cables came after a similar leak revealed several months ago that Lebanon's Murr offered advice on how Israel could defeat Hezbollah if a new war erupted on Israel's northern border.
In a future replay of its 2006 invasion of southern Lebanon, Israel should take care not to antagonize local Christian communities, Elias Murr told the United States embassy in Beirut, according to a document released by the WikiLeaks group.
"Israel cannot bomb bridges and infrastructure in the Christian areas," Murr was quoted as saying in the cable, sent by a U.S. diplomat to the State Department in Washington. "The Christians were supporting Israel in 2006 until they started bombing their bridges."
Israel fought a month-long war with Hezbollah militants in the summer of 2006, sending ground troops into southern Lebanon and bombing infrastructure targets as far north as Beirut.
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