lebanon explosion 311.
An explosion that rocked a home in southern Lebanon on Friday was caused by a
Hizbullah arms cache secretly stored inside the three-story building, the IDF
claimed on Saturday.
There did not appear to be any casualties from the
blast, which set off a large fire, shown on video footage taken by IDF unmanned
aerial vehicles dispatched to the home in the village of Shehabiyeh. The UAV
footage showed a pillar of smoke rising from the home and a group of people
pushing a car out to the street below.
Witnesses said Hizbullah officials
sealed off the area, pushing away journalists and cameramen. Hizbullah issued a
statement saying there were no casualties, but no comments were made over the
nature of the explosion or whether the building had been used to store
Last October, an explosion in another home went off in the
southern village of Tayr Filsay. Located about 40 kilometers from the border
with Israel, the home belonged to Abdul Nasser Issa, a low-level Hizbullah
That time the IAF also dispatched a drone which filmed
Hizbullah operatives removing what appeared to be missiles from the house and
loading them onto a truck. The drone then followed the truck which drove to a
nearby village and unloaded the weaponry at another home.
Last July, a
Hizbullah arms cache accidentally exploded in the southern village of Hirbet
Selm, about 20 km north of the border with Israel. The cache was hidden inside a
home in the village and contained dozens of 122mm Katyusha rockets as well as
high-powered machine guns.
According to the IDF’s Northern Command,
Hizbullah has thousands of similar arms caches scattered throughout all of
southern Lebanon’s 160 villages.
The homes are usually connected to
tunnels which could allow guerrilla fighters to move between battlefields and
surprise Israeli forces.
Meanwhile Saturday, a Lebanese newspaper
reported that the US will continue to supply the Lebanese Armed Forces with
equipment and weapons estimated to be worth approximately $100 million despite
an earlier freeze to aid.
Al-Nahar quoted diplomatic sources as saying
that Washington had urged both Israel and Lebanon to continue showing restraint
toward each other and to refrain from making threats and other provocative
Last month the US briefly halted the supply of military aid to
the LAF following violent border clashes with the IDF, which left an Israeli
officer, three Lebanese soldiers and a journalist dead.
The US State
Department has reportedly been working to allay the concerns of members
Congress who called to put a hold on funding.
“This incident was tragic
and entirely avoidable,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-New York) said following the
“US assistance is intended to enhance our safety and that of
Lowey chairs the House appropriations subcommittee that
authorizes such funds.
Similarly, House Foreign Affairs chairman Howard
Berman (D-California) also applied a hold, citing more general concerns
“reported Hizbullah influence on the Lebanese Armed Forces.”
Department spokesman P.J.
Crowley has previously defended US military
assistance to the Lebanese military as something that’s “in [the US’s]
interest and contributes to stability in the region.”
Ambassador to the US Michael Oren told AFP on Friday that Hizbullah has
arsenal of approximately 15,000 rockets amassed on Lebanon’s border with
including some with a long enough range to hit the southern city of
“The Syrian-Iranian backed Hizbullah poses a very serious threat
to Israel... Hizbullah today now has four times as many rockets as it
the 2006 Lebanon war. These rockets are longer-range. Every city in
within range right now, including Eilat,” he said.
Oren also expressed
Israel’s concerns over Hizbullah’s concealment of the weapons.
many of their missiles were basically out in the open, in silos and the
air force was able to neutralize a great number of them... Today those
missiles have been placed under hospitals, and homes and schools because
Hizbullah knows full well if we try to defend ourselves against them, we
branded once again as war criminals.”Hilary Leila Krieger and Jerusalem
Post staff contributed to this report.
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