On September 27th, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Hezbollah had placed three precision missile sites near the Beirut airport during his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York.
“Here’s a picture that’s worth a thousand missiles, here’s Beirut’s international airport,” Netanyahu said, holding up an image with the alleged missile sites marked with big red dots.
“In Lebanon, Iran is directing Hezbollah to build secret sites to convert inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles, missiles that can target deep inside Israel within an accuracy of 10 meters,” he said, using civilians as “human shields.”
He claimed the first site was in the Ouzai neighborhood, “on the water’s edge, a few blocks away from the runway.”
The second site, he said, was under the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium, and the third site was “adjacent to the airport itself, right next to it.”
“So I have a message for Hezbollah today, Israel also knows what you’re doing, Israel knows where you’re doing it, and Israel will not let you get away with it.”
Shortly after his speech, Israeli Defense Forces released a video clip and 5 photographs of what Israel said were Hezbollah’s rocket building sites in Lebanon.
The factories, which are meant to convert regular missiles into more accurate precision ones, are not believed to be up and running. The Israel Defense Forces claimed they are currently being constructed with Iranian assistance.
The Times of Israel claimed it has learned from anonymous sources that the target of the Israeli airstrike, due to which the Russian IL-20 was downed last week, was machinery allegedly used in the same production of precision missiles, en route to Hezbollah.
Times of Israel further cited IDF which claimed that Hezbollah had began working on these missiles facilities in 2017. The outlet cited earlier reports, as early as March 2017, claiming that Iran was constructing underground missile conversion factories in Lebanon. Since then, Israeli officials have repeatedly said that Israel would not abide such facilities.
The three sites presented on the satellite images are not the only facilities that the IDF believes are being used by Hezbollah for the manufacturing and storage of precision missiles.
“Israel is monitoring these sites with a variety of capabilities and tools, has significant knowledge of the precision project and is working to fight it with a variety of operational responses, techniques and tools,” the army said, cited by Times of Israel.
In recent years and months, Israel has acknowledged carrying out numerous airstrikes in Syria, with the aim of preventing Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in the country, as well as blocking the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Israeli Air Force has largely abstained from conducting raids inside Lebanon itself, though it has indicated that it was prepared to do so.
As reported by Times of Israel, earlier this year, IAF chief Amiram Norkin showed visiting generals a picture of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter flying next to Beirut’s airport, in what was seen as a direct message to Hezbollah.
Netanyahu and the IDF revelations followed the announcement of Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah who claimed that the group possesses “highly accurate” missiles despite Israel’s attempts to prevent it from acquiring such weaponry.
He also said that Hezbollah fighters will continue to be deployed in Syria, he said, but perhaps in lesser numbers due to reduced fighting there after Syrian government forces regained control of most rebel-held areas. Nasrallah also urged supporters to rally behind Iran, saying it’s facing hard times as more U.S. sanctions are to take effect in November.