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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Hizbullah Bears the Responsibility for the Beirut Disaster

Filed under: Hizbullah, Lebanon

Hizbullah Bears the Responsibility for the Beirut Disaster
The destruction of Beirut’s port. In the center are the remains of the grain storage towers. (YouTube Screengrab)

Hizbullah controls the security of the port of Beirut and uses the port for storing weapons and its smuggling operations.

The assessment in Lebanon is that the investigation of the explosion will be a whitewash. Responsibility for the disaster will be laid on junior officials in the Lebanese Government.

Preliminary reports of the Lebanese Government’s investigation indicate that the government is looking at negligence at the site over the last six years.

A massive amount of ammonium nitrate (2750 tons) confiscated from an abandoned ship had been stored in Hangar 12 at the port of Beirut over the last six years, but no directive was given to get rid of the materials. The Lebanese customs authority dispatched six letters to the judicial system warning of the danger of the ammonium nitrate stockpile, but nothing was done.

Lebanese are already asking whether the investigation results are pre-written to lay the responsibility on some low-level security guard or official. It will clear the Lebanese Government and Hizbullah of any responsibility for the disaster and the failure to remove the dangerous materials from the heart of a major civilian facility.

The leaks from the investigation so far do not touch on the claims that Hizbullah turned the port of Beirut into a weapons warehouse and had actually seized the ammonium nitrate stockpiled in the port to create explosive devices (IEDs) that it uses in terrorist bombs. In 2015, a Hizbullah warehouse storing 8.3 tons of ammonium nitrate was discovered in Cyprus, and six months later, three tons of ammonium nitrate were found in four London hideouts. “On top of the risk of accidental detonations that threaten residential neighborhoods, it was revealed that the charge used in the Burgas bus bombing in 2012 contained ammonium nitrate,” according to one report.1

Nor is there reference by investigators that the massive explosion may have included a smaller blast of Hizbullah’s weaponry that was stored near the ammonium nitrate stash, as al-Arabiya TV reported on August 4. Viewers of the videos of the port explosions claimed they saw “fireworks going off.” It can be said with relative certainty that the many tiny flashes were from low caliber ammunition exploding.

Hizbullah stores explosives, missiles, rockets, and ammunition throughout Lebanon, especially among the civilian population, to make it difficult for Israel to destroy them. The Iranian-backed group has transformed Lebanese residents into “human shields” to protect Hizbullah’s weapons.

Who is responsible for the terrible catastrophe in Beirut? The answer is written on the wall. Everyone in Lebanon assumes the Hizbullah and its Government puppets will steer the investigation in the direction they want and will ignore the fact known to every child in Lebanon that Hizbullah controls without constraints the port of Beirut. Hizbullah knows everything that is happening in the harbor just as it controls the other border crossings in the country.

Hizbullah uses the port for the delivery of goods without customs and for its smuggling industry. The organization must have known about the presence of the vast ammonium nitrate stockpile and apparently preferred not to transfer it from the port to another site, fearing that Israel would reveal it and would try to destroy it.

Hizbullah bears the responsibility along with the Lebanese government it controls.

American intelligence also thinks Hizbullah controls the operation in the port of Beirut. The Fox News Network broadcast on August 5 that according to American intelligence officials, most of the activity in the port is well-known to Hizbullah, and, in fact, the first people to arrive at the port’s bombing site were Hizbullah operatives.

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah with new Lebanese president Michel Aoun
Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah (left) and Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Hizbullah effectively rules Lebanon; it appointed President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab. Hizbullah pulls the strings behind the curtains through its representatives in the government and parliament, backed up by its massive arsenal. “Democracy” in Lebanon is a counterfeit democracy. It is the rule of Hizbullah terror serving as Iran’s agent and running Lebanon through corrupt mafia gangs. This is one of the primary reasons for the collapse of the Lebanese economy.

According to the estimates of economic experts in the world, Lebanon needs a total of $93 billion to get out of its severe financial crisis, but it is impossible to provide this amount as long as a terrorist organization dominates the country and refuses to demilitarize.

The disaster in Beirut opens a window of opportunity for the international community to re-engage and condition economic aid to Lebanon on Hizbullah demilitarizing and removing the weapons depots that it concealed among the civilian population. This is the opportunity to limit Hizbullah’s maneuverability in Lebanon, because the civilian population is unable to resist Hizbullah’s vast military power.

The massive explosion left about 300,000 civilians homeless, and they now enter a daily struggle for their lives and livelihood. If the Lebanese Government does not find a quick solution for them, it is liable to find itself in the face of huge demonstrations. Lebanon is also facing a severe food crisis following the disaster that destroyed the state’s central grain towers containing as much as 85 percent of Lebanon’s grain reserves.

It is vital to see the preliminary results of the investigation that is supposed to be delivered to the Lebanese Government within 48 hours. If the Lebanese public feels that this is a cover-up and a failure to reach the required conclusions, it may go to the streets and renew the intifada that began last October.

Senior security officials in Israel estimate that Iran will try to take advantage of the worsening crisis in Lebanon in the wake of the catastrophe to increase its involvement in the country. It is therefore vital that the international community work wisely: on the one hand to prevent Iran from assisting the residents of Lebanon economically by toughening the economic sanctions on Iran, and on the other hand, supervise the flow of money to the Lebanese economy in a way that is conditional on Hizbullah disarming.

Israeli intelligence officials estimate that Iran will attempt to take advantage of the transfer of humanitarian aid to Lebanon in order to smuggle in the aid shipments precision guidance systems for Hizbullah’s missiles. It is imperative to find the way to monitor Iranian aid shipments that will reach Lebanon through the air and the sea.

Israel will have to act against the transfer of shipments from Iran to Lebanon as soon as it has reliable and accurate intelligence information that the Iranians are sending materiel for Hizbullah precision-guided missile project.

The international community should not allow Lebanon’s corrupt government, which is supported by Hizbullah, to easily exit the economic crisis without demanding the necessary price for the wellbeing of Lebanon’s residents – that is the removal of Hizbullah’s weapons.

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