Nasrallah: We know more about Haifa Port than Beirut Port

He also said that "any claims that Hezbollah runs Beirut Port are lies."

A satellite image shows damages following Tuesday's blast in the port area in Beirut, Lebanon August 5, 2020 (photo credit: EUROPEAN SPACE IMAGING/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
A satellite image shows damages following Tuesday's blast in the port area in Beirut, Lebanon August 5, 2020
Hezbollah has eyed Israel’s Haifa Port but had not stored explosives at the Beirut Port and had no connection to Tuesday’s blast there, the organization’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday.
“We know more about the port of Haifa than the port of Beirut,” Nasrallah said in a televised address. “We talk about resistance, we are thinking of a strategy of defending Lebanon, we did not intervene in Lebanese affairs.”
It was his first speech since the Beirut blast.
Nasrallah emphasized that with regard to the port, “we have no rockets or explosives there, nor has there been in the past. We have nothing there: no missiles, no ammunition, no weapons, no ammonium nitrate, not even a rifle.”
He added that “any claims that Hezbollah runs Beirut Port are lies.”
Some media outlets spread rumors that Hezbollah was responsible or that it was Hezbollah weapons that caused the tragic event, Nasrallah said. But he said the rumors were not true.
The explosion affected people of all religious sects and that several Hezbollah operatives were killed and wounded in the disaster, Nasrallah said. Moreover, he said that many members of his organization did not know what was going on – “some thought it was an earthquake.”
“This is an attempt to incite the Lebanese people against Hezbollah,” Nasrallah said. He called the claims “unjust.” Nasrallah added that Hezbollah is ready to offer help in this crisis.
“All of Hezbollah’s institutions and capacities are here to help the Lebanese state after the Beirut blast,” he said. “Hezbollah is ready to help any family that has lost its home. People must not stay on the streets.”
Nasrallah mentioned Israel right at the start of his speech, but said he didn’t want to focus on Israel.
“I will not talk today about the Israeli enemy,” he said, “only about the disaster that befell Lebanon.”
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said on Friday an investigation into the biggest blast in Beirut’s history would examine whether it was caused by a bomb or other external interference, as residents tried to rebuild their shattered lives after the explosion.
For years, Israel has warned that Hezbollah has stored ammunition at the port. In 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly that Hezbollah had missile sites in Beirut. He showed a map of four sites, including one by the city’s port.
The international community should pressure the Lebanese government to oust Hezbollah from Lebanon in the aftermath of the explosion in the port of Beirut, outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the UN in New York Danny Danon told the Jewish group B’nai B’rith in a virtual interview conducted on Thursday.
“We should all demand more from the Lebanese government to push Hezbollah out of the government, out of the border with Israel,” said Danon, who has just finished a five-year term at the UN.
Danon told B’nai B’rith that while he was UN ambassador, he warned the UN Security Council that Hezbollah was storing weapons at the port.
“Last year when I spoke in the Security Council, I said very clearly that the port of Beirut had become the port of Hezbollah,” Danon said. His words, he said, were based on intelligence reports.
“We got the intelligence and I spoke about it publicly, that [Hezbollah is] actually using the airports and the ports to transport the weapons and other things that are dangerous,” Danon said. “We all respect the Lebanese people. We know that they are suffering… We send our condolences to the people there.”
“But we do criticize not only Hezbollah, but also the Lebanese government, because they allow Hezbollah to do those activities,” Danon said.
He also leveled criticism against Western countries, including the US and France, for providing financial assistance to the Lebanese government and its army while not doing enough to ensure that action was taken against Hezbollah.
“I tell them that it’s okay to support the Lebanese government, the Lebanese military, but you have to demand more,” Danon said. “When we see cooperation between Hezbollah and the Lebanese army, you ask yourself why the US or other countries should give any funding to this army that has allowed Hezbollah to take over.”
Reuters contributed to this report.