Hezbollah fools Israeli leaders into appearing in Lebanon war TV feature
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Hezbollah fools Israeli leaders into appearing in Lebanon war TV feature

Ex-defense and foreign ministers, wounded veteran told footage was for Italian TV; reporter also claims to have been misled

Former defense minister Amir Peretz interviewed for Hezbollah's Al-Mayadeen TV (YouTube screenshot)
Former defense minister Amir Peretz interviewed for Hezbollah's Al-Mayadeen TV (YouTube screenshot)

Hezbollah fooled three senior Israeli officials and a wounded soldier into giving interviews for its documentary on the 2006 Second Lebanon War. The Lebanese-based terror group fought Israel for 34 days following the abduction of two IDF soldiers along the Israel-Lebanon border.

According to a report by the Yedioth Ahronoth daily on Tuesday, an Italian reporter interviewed former defense minister Amir Peretz, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Maj. Gen. (res.) MK Eyal Ben-Reuven, telling them the footage would be broadcast on the BBC and Italian television.

But reporter Michela Moni insisted he was also misled, maintaining the Palestinian producer who gave him the job told him the footage was for the BBC and Al-Jazeera.

On Saturday, al-Mayadeen, a television channel affiliated with the Shiite organization, broadcast previously unreleased footage of Hezbollah fighters training for the attack that launched the Second Lebanon War.

Retired IDF major general Eyal Ben-Reuven speaks to al-Mayadeen TV (YouTube screenshot)
Retired IDF major general Eyal Ben-Reuven speaks to al-Mayadeen TV (YouTube screenshot)

Three IDF soldiers were killed and two — First Sergeant Ehud Goldwasser and Sergeant Eldad Regev — were captured in the raid. Five more IDF soldiers were killed shortly thereafter in a failed Israeli rescue attempt.

The broadcast is part of a three-episode documentary series commemorating the war’s 10th anniversary. It is seen in Israel as part of Hezbollah efforts to rehabilitate its image in Lebanon as the cause for the country’s suffering, both resulting from the 2006 war and due to its active participation in the Syria civil war in support of Iranian and Syrian regime forces.

The video, in Arabic and Hebrew, is below:

Tomer Weinberg, an IDF veteran who was wounded in 2006, told Yedioth that Moni approached him in February.

“In February, Michela Moni presented himself as a journalist for the Italian ANSA news agency in Rome. He asked to interview me about the kidnapping. I declined the offer a few times and explained reconstructing the incident could worsen my mental and physical state,” he said.

But Moni was persistent, Weinberg added.

“The Italian journalist didn’t give up and I eventually agreed to be interviewed. When he came to my home he told me he was staying in Jerusalem and came to visit me specially ‘because the Italian people are extremely interested to hear your story, and it is important they hear the circumstances of the kidnapping,’” Weinberg said.

Second Lebanon War IDF veteran Tomer Weinberg interviewed for al-Mayadeen TV (YouTube screenshot)
Second Lebanon War IDF veteran Tomer Weinberg interviewed for al-Mayadeen TV (YouTube screenshot)

During the hour-long interview, Moni urged him repeatedly to be filmed next to a photo from the 2006 ambush in which his comrades were abducted and killed, and he was injured. He refused. And the Hezbollah documentary distorted his account, making it seem like he abandoned his fellow soldiers, Weinberg maintained.

“My friends shamed me because after all that I told the Italian journalist, they showed only a tiny part of it, which implies that I escaped from the vehicle and abandoned my friends. All at once the memories from the incident came flooding back and I started to feel anxiety,” Weinberg said.

“Since the film was shown I have not been to work,” he added.

Spokespeople for Livni and Peretz said they were never informed they were being interviewed for al-Mayadeen. Former head of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin also appears in the documentary, but told Yedioth he believed the filmmakers simply used old footage from his previous Israeli TV appearances.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators held a rally for kidnapped soldiers in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square in the fall of 2006. Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit were already in captivity for several months at the time of the demonstration. (photo credit: Flash90)
Tens of thousands of demonstrators held a rally for kidnapped soldiers in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square in the fall of 2006. Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit were already in captivity for several months at the time of the demonstration. (photo credit: Flash90)

Meanwhile, Moni told the daily he was tricked by a Palestinian producer into accepting the task.

“I also didn’t know that the interviews I was sent to do in Israel were intended for Hezbollah,” the Italian journalist said. “[Palestinian TV producer] Ahmed Barghouthi, who hired me in Jerusalem, told me that he was preparing interviews for a show to be aired on the BBC and on Al-Jazeera. I work a lot with this producer and I took on the task.”

“I am a professional journalist and I have no connection with al-Mayadeen or Hezbollah and I have no interest in being in contact with them. Tomer Weinberg is an extremely nice individual and he says that he has no idea how the interview wound up on al-Mayadeen,” added Moni.

“When I realized that the Hezbollah channel broadcast the interviews and not Al Jazeera or the BBC, I understood that I had been used and I came out looking like a liar to my interviewees. I am scared of losing my job,” he said.

The Hezbollah broadcast also included reconnaissance footage taken by the terror group of the site along the border — Point 105 in IDF parlance — near the Lebanese village of Aita el-Sha’ab, where the attack took place. Audio of IDF radio communications, including Ehud Goldwasser’s voice shortly before the attack, were included in the footage.

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