Beirut to complain to UN about Israeli hand in assassinations

Jack Khoury

Haaretz

Sivan 21, 5766

Lebanon has decided to file a complaint with the United Nations Security Council asserting that Israel was behind a string of assassinations in the country, the Lebanese prime minister said on Saturday.

"We consider this as an act of aggression (by Israel)," Fouad Siniora told reporters.

"We are working on the file and once it is completed we will submit a complaint to the United Nations Security Council."

An investigation carried out by Lebanese intelligence recently uncovered the alleged Israeli involvement in the assassinations. According to the report, the agents involved in the hits were headed by a former Lebanese police officer.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh said the report on the investigation includes unequivocal evidence and added that Beirut would file a complaint with the Security Council in order to "present Israel's nakedness before the international community," the Lebanese As-Safir newspaper reported on Friday.

According to As-Safir, the Beirut decision is meant to reduce the diplomatic pressure that has been placed on the Lebanese government, particularly by U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman who has expressed doubts as to the veracity of the investigations findings.

Feltman also maintains that Hezbollah - and not Lebanese intelligence - stands behind the claim that an assassination network was exposed.

Feltman even hinted that the affair might negatively influence American-Lebanese relations and U.S. military aid to Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese military is continuing with its "Dawn Surprise" operation focusing on Mahmoud Rafeh. They were arrested last week together with three other suspects in connection with a May 26 car bombing that killed two Islamic Jihad officials. Rafeh reportedly admitted to a role in the killings.

Rafeh also confessed to assassinating two officials of Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrilla group and a senior Palestinian militant, the army said.

The Lebanese are also hunting down Hassin Hatab, a Palestinian resident of Sidon with extensive connections in refugee camps in Lebanon and with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, headed by Ahmed Jibril.

Hatab was directly involved in assassinations and attempted assassinations of senior Hamas leaders living in Lebanon and Syria.

As-Safir reported that Hatab and Rafeh each directed a network of agents working independently in Lebanon and Syria. According to directives received by their operators in the Israeli Mossad, the two men reportedly shared information within the framework of carrying out their assignments.

Hatab has not yet been tracked down but Lebanese security forces are currently attempting to tighten the ring around him. There are reports, however, that his wife has been arrested and provided Lebanese authorities with information critical to the investigation against her husband. Investigators noted that other family members of both Rafeh and Hatab were not involved in the assassination networks and will likely be released from custody in the coming days.

Lebanon: Israeli naval commandos brought bombs to Lebanon
Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Al-Murr told reporters at a press conference held Thursday in Beirut there are similarities between the methods and techniques employed by Rafeh and Hatab in a number of blasts they orchestrated and the assassination of Islamic Jihad's military commander in Lebanese, Mahmoud Majzoub and his brother Nidal, last month.

Al-Murr hinted that Rafeh received a replacement door for a Mercedes car that contained a remote-controlled explosive device. The car was blown up next to Majzoub's car in Sidon.

Al-Murr noted that Rafeh and Hatab received their explosives from various sources - including via the disputed Shaba Farms area on the Israeli-Lebanese border and via the Mediterranean Sea with the help of Israeli naval commandos.

According to Al-Murr, the Rafeh investigation revealed that Mossad agents - including women - would enter Lebanon with Lebanese or European identification and would take active roles in the operations.

The Lebanese defense minister also said that, despite advances made in the investigation, there is still no proof of the connection between the network of agents and the recent explosions in eastern Beirut tied to the attempted assassinations of minister Marwan Hamada and journalist Jubran Tawini.