Robert Fisk is hardly "one of the best British reporters of today".
He is certainly one of the best-connected,best-informed Middle East correspondents, but also an extremely tendentious, blinkered and one-sided propagandist of the Arab cause.
(Others of the same bent are Patrick Seale, Alexander Cockburn and Eric Rouleau).
His objectivity is well demonstrated by the sentence "Hobeika ..led his murderes...on Israel's orders".
We know, of course, it was more complicated than that, but he willfully creates the impression that Hobeika and his Phalange cutthroats were under orders from Israel to commit a massacre. Offhandedly slipping a tendentious judgement as a statement of fact is one of Fiske's favourite sleights of hand. Readers of the British press can cite hundreds of further examples.
Now we are condemned to speculation. But for Israeli observers there is one test of plausibility: We know how the Mossad operates and in which moral and political context. We know how the decision to assassinate Israel's enemies has been taken in the past, always by Israel's political leadership, and on what criteria, always in the context of the fight against terrorism. Not even Vanunu was assassinated, if one looks for an example of someone whom there was a potential need to silence; Vanunu carried in his head much more sensitive, potentially life-and-death national security secrets than Hobeika, and there were indeed people who banged their fists on the table and demanded his assassination at the time, but still he was abducted alive and put to trial.
We also know the kind of people who serve in Israel's intelligence community - they come from all wings of the Zionist mainstream, many of them Labour and Left supporters with a hearty dislike for Sharon. They are all committed to a certain professional ethic, even if sometimes they honour it by the breach; but none will condone turning the Mossad into an assassination squad in the service of a politician's personal interests, as distinct from those of the state. Can one imagine they would automatically and unquestioningly execute such an assassination order? That they would not kill the operation by leaking it beforehand, or by activating one of the "tribal elders" of the intelligence community? Or that such a thing could remain secret?
If not for high-minded ethical reasons, then at least for reasons of personal interest and power struggles to which we have become accustomed, someone would have blown the whistle. Remember the No. 300 bus affair - however one judges the motivation of the three Shabak chieftains s who resigned on it, they did resign.
And nowadays the intelligence community operates in a much tougher institutional environment,Bagatz and all.

No, to me it looks like a clever Syrian frame-up,.
perhaps with the help of those Phalange thugs .
formerly under Hobeika's command who might have been
exposed by him if he really had testified
From now on there will never be a way to refute the
suspicion that Israel was behind the assassination and, hence, there was indeed a smoking gun on direct Israeli command responsibility for the massacre.
As if the indirect responsibility and gross negligence were not bad enough, from an Israeli point of view - I served in the Lebanon war as a young reservist and was disgusted by it like everyone else.
I also supported Sharon's ouster.
But that's a far cry from
letting the Arabs who cheer the likes of Asad and Saddam and who actually held the knives and cut children's throats and pregnant women's
stomachs tying this albatross around Israel's collective neck.

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