According to the cable, the Irish government reacted to stop weapons transfers to Israel via its airport due to "public sensitivities" regarding Israel's conflict with Lebanon in 2006 [GALLO/GETTY]

New revelations by whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks, has shown that the Irish government moved to limit transfers of US weapons to Israel through its airports in the wake of the country's war with Lebanon in 2006.

The cable, sent from the US embassy in Ireland in 2006, said that "although supportive of continued US military transits at Shannon Airport, the Irish government has informally begun to place constraints on US operations at the facility, mainly in response to public sensitivities over US actions in the Middle East".

After the Israel-Lebanon war, the Israeli military said it needed to restore its depleted ammunition stocks, but the cable from James Kenny, the US ambassador to Ireland at the time, indicates that the Irish government was making it increasingly difficult for Israel-bound US weapons shipments to pass through its airport.

Kenny said that the Irish foreign office had protested to him over an incident in February 2006, when Apache helicopters were sent to Israel via Ireland without the local authorities being appropriately informed.

'Perceived US wrongdoing'

The cable said that the Irish department of transport required that any military equipment passing through the country required "prior notification" and "exemption waivers."

"The transport department notice followed upon the department of foreign affairs [DFA] oral but definitive decision during the Lebanon conflict to forbid US military transits carrying munitions to Israel ... a policy that the DFA did not convey to [the US embassy] before informing the media," it said.

The ambassador disclosed in the cable that "segments of the Irish public ... see the airport as a symbol of Irish complicity in perceived US wrongdoing in the Middle East."

He wrote that senior Irish officials told him informally that if the US made further mistakes in its conduct at the airport, the matter would become a central issue in Ireland's elections in 2007.

Kenny disclosed in the cable that the deputy head of mission warned Irish officials that the US would begin using other European airports, causing a loss of tens of millions of dollars for the Irish economy, if the policy continued. 

Source: Agencies