Beirut attack: What really happened?

Israel has been accused of such operation across the globe, so why not in Beirut?

By
August 28, 2019 11:10
4 minute read.
Parts of a drone which fell on Beirut on August 25, 2019.

Parts of a drone which fell on Beirut on August 25, 2019. . (photo credit: ARAB MEDIA)

We will likely never know the whole story about what happened in Beirut early on Sunday morning, but one thing is for sure: if the explosive drones were Israeli, it was an operation on a level not seen in years.

Israel is staying mum on the reports coming out of Lebanon, as they tend to do. So that leaves the public to rely on stories spun by the IDF’s enemy Hezbollah, and social media.  

So let’s go with what we know: Just hours after the Israel Air Force took out an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force cell led by two Hezbollah operatives planning an explosive drone attack against Israel, two DIJ drones appeared in the skies over Dahiyeh.  One crashed after being pelted by rocks while the other exploded, wounding three people and causing significant damage to Hezbollah’s media office.

According to Hezbollah, the two drones carried 5.5 kilos of C4 each and were on a “suicide mission” and not reconnaissance or civilian.  

While Hezbollah and the Lebanese Armed Forces quickly blamed Israel for the attack, many in Jerusalem blamed Iran.  If Iran couldn’t launch their killer drone attack against northern Israel from Syria, why not try from Lebanon?  Unlikely.  

These DIJ drones are not able to fly too far from their operators on the ground, a few kilometers at best. That would mean that their operators were on the ground in Hezbollah’s stronghold. Such an operation may have risked not only the Israeli assets being captured by the Shi’ite group or LAF, but an all-out war between the two enemy countries.  

Could the assets not have done something else? Instead of explosive drones, perhaps a car-bombing or assassination by gunmen with silencers?  

Israel has been accused of such operations across the globe, so why not in Beirut?  

But it’s unlikely that the media office posed an imminent threat to the safety and security of the citizens of Israel.  It had to be something – or someone – else.  

Alleged video from the scene released on social media showed one of the drones hovering over a parking lot, possibly waiting for a target.

Other images from the scene showed two trucks in flames after the explosion.  But the question remains: what could be such an important target for Israel to risk such an operation?  

According to a report by The Times, the target was not a high-ranking Hezbollah official like Hassan Nasrallah, who hides deep below ground in his bunker, but rather the burning trucks seen in the images.  

According to intelligence sources quoted in the report, the truck had been carrying crates with machinery to mix high-grade propellant for precision-guided missiles from a nearby storage facility, which contained a high-end industrial mixer needed to mix solid-fuel propellants for high-grade precision missiles.  

The Iranian-made mixer that was regarded as one of the key parts of precision missile technology was seriously damaged, and the computerized control mechanism that was in a separate crate was totally destroyed in the blast.  Hezbollah has been trying for years to produce precision-guided missiles to add to their arsenal, and Israel has for years been trying to prevent it.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in December that Hezbollah has been trying to build an infrastructure to convert ground-to-ground missiles to precision missiles near the city’s port and Hariri International Airport.  

According to sources, Hezbollah officials made a conscious decision to transfer the center of gravity of the precision-missile project – which they have been dealing with for some time – from Syria to the civilian space in the heart of Beirut.  

There are other sites in Beirut and elsewhere where Hezbollah operatives are similarly working to establish infrastructures that will be designated for future storage and conversion of precision missiles. According to sources, Israel monitors these sites with a variety of capabilities and means, and holds a great deal of information about Hezbollah’s precision-missile project.  

Israel knew that those trucks posed an imminent threat; they were the target of the explosive drones.  Hezbollah’s arsenal of an estimated 130,000 rockets is comprised of mostly small, man-portable and unguided surface-to-surface rockets and missiles with ranges of between 10 km. and 500 km. The group also has several kinds of surface-to-air and land-to-sea missiles.  

But Israeli officials believe that the Lebanese Shi’ite terror group will possess more than 1,000 precision-guided missiles within a decade, and that is something that the IDF and Jerusalem does not want.  

It is something that Israel justifies in its expanded campaign against Iran. First in Syria, then reportedly starting last month in Iraq. And now in Lebanon itself.


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