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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What Hezbullah knew during the war

Arutz Sheva published an article this morning that indicates that Hezbullah's al-Manar TV was on the ground in Israel during last summer's war. Not surprisingly, al-Manar is more than a television station:
A reporter for Al Manar TV operated freely in Israel during the Second Lebanon War despite the fact that the station is a propaganda and intelligence gathering arm of Hizbullah – Israel's enemy in the war. Additional TV stations from enemy countries had reporters in Israel during the war: Iranian TV, Saudi Arabian TV, and the Al Jazeera news channel.

Omedia reports that Al Manar is not a media network in the regular sense of the word. In the USA it is considered a terror organization and its operation within the USA has been banned by presidential decree since the 9/11 terror attacks. When reporters for a station like Al Manar transmit information about the locations hit by missiles in real time, they are for all intents and purposes enemy spies.


The matter was investigated by the committee of inquiry, headed by retired judge Dalia Dorner, that was established to review journalistic coverage during the war. The protocols of the committee's work include an exchange between Haaretz's veteran military affairs analyst, Ze'ev Schiff, who was a member of the committee, and IDF Spokesman Miri Regev, in which Regev confirms that "Al Manar broadcast from the ground all of the time."

A senior official in the Government Press Bureau said that freelance Arab reporters from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and other countries operated in Israel during the war and reported for Al Jazeera, NBC Dubai and Al Manar. During the war itself they were allowed to report from Haifa, even though they did not have government press cards.

The reporter for Al Manar, said the Press Bureau official, is an Israeli Arab. And Israeli citizens are allowed to report for news organizations that operate from enemy states.

When asked whether reporters for Al Manar and Iranian TV submitted their reports to the censor before transmitting them, the IDF Spokesman replied laconically: "the foreign TV stations operating in the territory of Israel are required to submit reports to the censor before broadcasting, and this was true in the Second Lebanon War as well."
I read this report and my reaction was "tell me something I didn't know already."
The ability to hack into Israel's military communications gave Hezbollah a decisive battlefield advantage, aside from allowing it to dominate the media war by repeatedly intercepting reports of the casualties it had inflicted and announcing them through its television station, Al-Manar. Al-Manar's general director, Abdallah Kassir, would not comment on the information-gathering methods that had allowed it to preempt Israel's casualty announcements, but he admitted he was in constant contact with Hezbollah's military wing.
Like this report:
Hezbollah's television station, Al-Manar, reported that rockets hit the oil refineries in Haifa Bay. I have not seen any confirmation of that claim in Israel. YNet reports that al-Manar is broadcasting Israel Television's live pictures of the devastation.

"After the enemy continued all night their destructive shelling of [Beirut's] outhern suburb and other areas... the resistance movement fired dozens of rockets on Haifa," the TV station said, reading a statement from the terrorist group.

"The Islamic resistance at 9:45 [local time] rained again on Haifa with a new salvo of Raad-2 and Raad-3 rockets," it said.
The real question is why this information is being released now. And my guess is that someone is going through a checklist before the next war starts.


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