Lebanon accused Israel Tuesday of threatening its civilian infrastructure after the latter complained before the United Nations Security Council that Iran was smuggling weapons to the Hezbollah movement through the port of Lebanon's capital, Beirut.
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"Israel found that in 2018 and 2019, Iran and the Quds Force [a unit in Iran's Revolutionary Guards] have begun to advance the exploitation of the civilian maritime channels, and specifically the Port of Beirut,” said Israel's U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, at the meeting, adding, “the Port of Beirut is now the Port of Hezbollah.”
Lebanon denied the accusations.
“These accusations are direct threats on our peace and civilian infrastructure,” responded the Lebanese U.N. Ambassador Amal Mudallali, as the Hezbollah forms part of Lebanon’s coalition government.
“If he [Danon] is using them [the accusations] to prepare the ground and the international community for an attack on Lebanon’s civilian ports and airport and its infrastructure — as they [Israel] did in 2006 — this council should not stay silent,” urged Amal.
Also speaking to the council Tuesday, Iran’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Eshagh Al-Habib, said Danon had been trying to draw away the council’s attention “from the crimes and unlawful policies of its regime.”
Israel considers the movement of Hezbollah as the biggest threat along its borders. Both sides have avoided major conflicts since their last war in 2006, during which Hezbollah inflicted a historic defeat on Israeli forces after Tel Aviv launched a missile campaign against southern Lebanon in an attempt to claim more territory.
The fighting lasted 33 days and claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians. About 1,000,000 people were displaced.
Hezbollah was formed in 1985 with the backing of the newly-founded Islamic Republic of Iran as a militant political party.
The group defines itself through its struggle against Israeli settler-colonialism in Palestine and Lebanon, particularly the 1982 Israeli occupation of South Lebanon, which ended in Israeli defeat and its withdrawal from the country in 2000.