Hezbollah missile site revelations could trigger US sanctions

Netanyahu warned in his address to the UN General Assembly of secret Hezbollah arms depots in civilian areas of Beirut that could trigger yet another massive explosion.

Three Hezbollah missle manufacturing sites in Beirut are highlighted alongside the site of the Beirut Port explosion. (photo credit: IDF)
Three Hezbollah missle manufacturing sites in Beirut are highlighted alongside the site of the Beirut Port explosion.
(photo credit: IDF)
Hezbollah use of civilian, residential neighborhoods to store and manufacture arms could trigger US sanctions against the terrorist group for using human shields, experts said following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Tuesday night speech to the UN General Assembly, where he revealed a weapons site in Beirut.

The authors of the 2018 “Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shield Act,” which passed with bipartisan support, said Netanyahu’s address indicated that Hezbollah fell under the law’s purview and the US should sanction the group for using human shields, which is a war crime in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Twitter that he was “deeply disturbed by Netanyahu's UNGA presentation on Hezbollah’s use of human shields... It’s long past time for the administration to impose sanctions mandated by my 2018 human shields law.”


Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) tweeted that "following @IsraeliPM's UNGA speech, there can be no doubt that Hezbollah is using civilians as human shields. It's past time for the Treasury Department to impose sanctions – mandated by my bill, the Shields Act – on anyone complicit in these war crimes."

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) tweeted that “following @IsraeliPM’s UNGA speech, there can be no doubt that Hezbollah is using civilians as human shields. It’s past time for the Treasury Department to impose sanctions – mandated by my bill, the Shields Act – on anyone complicit in these war crimes.”
The Shields Act requires the president to submit a list to Congress of each foreign person involved in Hezbollah’s or Hamas’s use of “civilians protected as such by the law of war to shield military objectives from attack,” and to sanction those individuals.

Netanyahu warned in his address to the UN General Assembly of secret Hezbollah arms depots in civilian areas of Beirut that could trigger yet another massive explosion, less than two months after a devastating blast at the Lebanese capital’s port killed 200 and injured thousands.

Among those sites was one in the Janah neighborhood near Beirut’s international airport, where Hezbollah has an arms depot and a precision-guided missile (PGM) factory abutting gas canisters belonging to a gas company.
The IDF released information soon after regarding sites for PGM component manufacturing and storage under residential buildings in the Laylaki and Chouaifet neighborhoods.

Orde Kittrie, a former US State Department lawyer and current senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, also said the evidence strongly supports imposing sanctions on Hezbollah pursuant to the 2018 law, especially the sites in Laylaki and Chouaifet, which are under apartment buildings housing 70 and 50 families, respectively.

In Kittrie’s assessment, the threat posed to Israel from the PGM factories makes them legitimate targets for the IDF.

Iran has been unsuccessful in sending PGMs to Hezbollah, in part because of Israeli attacks on its arms convoys, and has switched to a strategy of sending parts to the terrorist group to be assembled in Lebanon.

Kittrie said Hezbollah’s use of human shields puts civilians in danger of explosive accidents like the one that recently destroyed Beirut’s port and another in which a Hezbollah arms depot detonated in the village of Ain Qana.

“Yet Western countries have not yet responded by penalizing, prosecuting, or otherwise holding Hezbollah, other specific terrorist groups, their leaders, and material supporters accountable for using human shields,” Kittrie said.

“Despite considerable prior evidence of human shields use by Hezbollah and other terrorists, the administration has yet to impose any sanctions under the Shields Act, which became law nearly two years ago.
The exceptionally strong evidence released today should prompt it to act.”