In his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah of maintaining a ‘secret arms depot’ in a residential neighbourhood of Beirut, warning it could cause another tragic explosion in the Lebanese capital.
During the speech, Netanyahu showed maps purportedly showing the missile depot’s location next to a gas station and residential housing. He also showed what he said was a picture of the entrance to the depot.
“Here’s where the next explosion will take place, right here,” he said.
Addressing the Lebanese people, he said: “You’ve got to act now, you’ve got to protest this, because if this thing explodes, it’s another tragedy. … You should tell them, ‘Tear these depots down.’”
Early last month, a warehouse filled with nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in Beirut’s port, killing nearly 200 people, wounding thousands and causing widespread destruction in the capital. The ammonium nitrate had been stored there for several years. The cause of the blast is still being investigated.
Promoting the normalization deals with the UAE and Bahrain, Netanyahu then went on to once again rail against his arch enemy Iran, saying Israel and the Arab states would “not only stand together in advancing peace, we stand together in confronting the greatest enemy of peace in the Middle East — Iran.”
Netanyahu also claimed, yet again, that Iran would have “enough enriched uranium in a few months for two nuclear bombs.”
Netanyahu praised Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA nuclear deal and called on the world to follow the US in applying ‘snap back’ sanctions.
He told the people of Lebanon that “Israel means you no harm, but Iran does,” and that “Iran and Hezbollah have deliberately put you and your families in grave danger.”
Finally, Netanyahu said “both Arabs and Israelis are urging tough action on Iran, and when Arabs and Israelis agree, other should pay attention.”
Netanyahu also claimed that another weapons depot had exploded just a few days ago in the southern Lebanese village of Ain Qana, near the port city of Sidon. It is not clear what caused that explosion, which sent smoke billowing into the sky but did not cause any casualties.
Israel has repeatedly accused Hezbollah of storing weapons and maintaining military outposts in civilian areas, especially in the southern suburbs of Beirut and southern Lebanon, both strongholds of support for the Iran-backed militant group.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah denied Netanyahu’s allegations, insisting the group does not store missiles in civilian facilities.
“Whoever wants to go can go now. If Hezbollah is storing missiles in this facility then there is not enough time to remove them,” Nasrallah said. “We don’t store missiles at the port or near gas facilities. We know where to store missiles.”
“We will allow media outlets to enter the facility so that the world knows that Netanyahu is lying,” he added. LINK
After Netanyahu’s address, the Israeli military released detailed maps showing the site that the prime minister had referenced as well as two other alleged missile depots it said were located under residential apartment blocks.
The information compiled by the IDF claims to expose “three Hezbollah Precision Guided Missile (PGM) manufacturing sites located in civilian neighbourhoods in the heart of the Lebanese capital, Beirut.”
The three locations identified are all either in or in close proximity to civilian buildings:
- An underground PGM manufacturing site in the Laylaki neighbourhood: the site is underneath a seven-story residential building, home to over 70 families, and is near a medical centreand a churchapproximately 130 metres from the site.
- An underground PGM manufacturing site located in the Chouaifet neighbourhood: the site is underneath a five-story residential building, home to approximately 50 families, and is nearby a mosque, approximately 90 metres north of it.
- A PGM manufacturing site in the industrial area of the Jnah neighbourhood: the site is nearby two gas companies, one immediately adjacent and one 50 meters away, and a gas station, which is a few dozen metres away.
The Israeli military goes on to allege that “these PGM manufacturing sites, deliberately placed in the heart of populated areas in Beirut, put the lives of Lebanese civilians at risk. The disaster which occurred in the Beirut Port last August and the explosions in September showcase the extent to which the lives, the security, and the property of Lebanese civilians are at risk.
Hezbollah’s strategy to hide weapons and operate from civilian neighbourhoods stems from its intentions to draw the IDF to target these civilian areas in times of escalation. If Hezbollah were to target Israeli civilians from these sites, the IDF would have no choice but to react—potentially placing Lebanese civilians in harm’s way—causing international outrage toward the IDF.”
The Israeli military accused Hezbollah of using the civilian population as ‘human shields’, not only by placing PGM manufacturing sites in civilian neighbourhoods, but also by placing weapon warehouses in civilian areas across Lebanon. Two videos were also produced to elaborate upon the allegations.
An Arabic spokesperson for the Israeli Army also released a video in Arabic describing what Israel claims to be Hezbollah’s Precision Guided Missle (PGM) manufacturing sites in Beirut.
#عاجل كشف النقاب عن ثلاثة مواقع لانتاج مواد تستخدم في مشروع الصواريخ الدقيقة الذي يديره #حزب_الله في مناطق سكنية لبنانية مكتظة وبالقرب من اماكن يقصدها المواطنون دومًا.لبنان إلى أين؟ الجواب بات واضحًا ليبقى السؤال الأهم أين الدولة اللبنانية المؤتمنة على صيانة سيادتها وحماية شعبها؟ pic.twitter.com/MHt2Tmkreb
— افيخاي ادرعي (@AvichayAdraee) September 29, 2020
The statement by the Israeli military concludes:
The State of Israel and the IDF have reported these sites numerous times, both to the UN and to additional diplomatic networks, as well as through various media channels.
In its decision to expose these three sites in Beirut, the IDF hopes to call the Lebanese government out again, with the support of the international community, to intervene in the matter. The IDF hopes to help Lebanese civilians protect themselves from the risks caused by the entrenchment of the Iranian-proxy Hezbollah in their country.
The IDF will continue to extensively operate against these threats through various methods and tools to protect both Israeli and Lebanese civilians.
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