The Trump administration reportedly sees the political instability following the Beirut explosion as an opportunity to weaken Hezbollah; Trey Yingst reports with new footage from the Beirut protests.
In an address to the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday showed pictures of what he claims is a secret Hezbollah arms depot in the middle of a residential area in Beirut, close to a gas company, calling on Lebanese citizens to act now before another deadly explosion occurs.
“Here’s where the next explosion will take place, right here,” he said.
“You’ve got to act now, you’ve got to protest this, because if this thing explodes, it’s another tragedy,” Netanyahu said, addressing the Lebanese people. “You should tell them, ‘Tear these depots down.’”
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah denied Netanyahu’s allegations, insisting the group does not store missiles in civilian facilities and inviting media outlets to go and check the mentioned site.
Nasrallah said in a televised address: “Media outlets can go now. If there were missiles there, Hezbollah has no time to remove them…that shows you that Netanyahu is lying.”
At the site, media found a small factory housing heavy machinery but no weapons.
Dozens of reporters, including an Associated Press photographer, toured the small factory in the southern neighborhood of Jnah late Tuesday, where they saw large pieces of iron and steel, heavy machinery and oxygen canisters — but no missiles or weapons of any kind.
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 after being removed from an impounded cargo ship. No one has yet been held accountable for the blast, which appears to have been triggered by an accidental fire.
Israel has long accused Hezbollah of storing weapons and maintaining military posts in civilian areas, especially in the southern suburbs of Beirut and southern Lebanon, both strongholds of support for the Iran-backed militant group.
After Netanyahu’s address, the Israeli military released detailed maps showing the site in Jnah and two other alleged missile depots it said were under residential apartment blocks.
It described all three as precision-guided missile manufacturing sites. The military provided precise locations of what it called weapons sites but gave no other evidence and did not say how advanced the manufacturing program is.