Ramallah/Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Israeli newspaper ‘Yediot Aharonot’ claimed that Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah ‘tricked’ Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, when he gave him a rifle, saying that Hezbollah fighters had plundered the weapon from the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the summer 2006 war.
In a report under the headline “Nasrallah Tricks Ahmadinejad”, ‘Yediot’ newspaper wrote yesterday that the rifle, given at the conclusion Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon last Thursday, and which Nasrallah said that Hezbollah fighters had seized from the Israeli army in 2006, “had not been used by the army for more than 3 decades, for 36 years to be exact”.
The newspaper added: “Despite the arrogance of Nasrallah, this rifle, offered by the Secretary General of Hezbollah as a farewell gift to Ahmadinejad, packaged in a luxury box, was rendered obsolete by the [Israeli] army in the early seventies”.
Security sources in the Israeli army said in the newspaper: “the general consensus is that this is another cheap piece of propaganda promoted by Hezbollah, because the [Israeli] army never used those rifles in the Second Lebanese War of 2006”.
Talk coming from the IDF spokesman’s office suggests it is most probable that the rifle is a FN-FAL 7.62 model, which has not been in military use since 1974, and it is safe to assume that the weapon was not used in the summer 2006 war.
The military spokesman added: “The Israeli Army provided a number of these rifles to the pro-Israeli South Lebanon Army, during the (Peace of Galilee) war in 1982, and this may be one of those rifles”. He went on to accuse Nasrallah of being “a liar”. In Beirut, a member of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, MP Ismail Succariyeh (retired Brigadier-General in the Lebanese Army, and military expert), explained that “according to the image, the rifle is a type of the Israeli ‘Val’ model, used by Israeli border guards”. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “It seems that the resistance captured and seized it [the rifle], in one of their border operations, perhaps before the liberation in 2000, or perhaps afterwards”.
Meanwhile, the strategic expert, retired Brigadier-General Elias Hanna, confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Secretary General of Hezbollah could not present a rifle [to Ahmadinejad], which was not captured from the Israeli army, and then announce that it had been, in the media. He said: “determining the date when this rifle was seized is difficult, but it is possible that it could be from the period of Israeli occupation in southern Lebanon, or [seized from] the militia of Antoine Lahad”.
Commenting on the Iranian President’s visit to Lebanon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that Israel has faced new threats in recent days, also noting that Lebanon is transforming into “a state that moves within Iran’s orbit”.
Israeli radio quoted Netanyahu as saying that he considers the situation in Lebanon to be ‘tragic’, whilst stressing that Israel is aware of how to defend itself. The radio station said that Netanyahu made such comments at a weekly cabinet meeting, held in Kibbutz Degania, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, to mark the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Kibbutz movement.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during a speech at a public welcoming rally, held in his honor in the southern Lebanese city of Bint Jbeil, a few kilometers from the border with Israel, claimed that: “Palestine will be liberated thanks to the power of faith and resistance”.