Hezbollah denies being behind the Beirut explosion

The secretary general of the Lebanese party claims to have no link to the explosive material stored in the capital's port
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gives a televised speech after Tuesday's explosion in the port area of Beirut, Lebanon, on 7 August 2020

AL-MANAR/Handout via REUTERS  -   Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gives a televised speech after Tuesday's explosion in the port area of Beirut, Lebanon, on 7 August 2020

The Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah party, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on Friday denied any link with the explosive material stored in the port of Beirut. "I absolutely and categorically deny that we had anything in the port: no weapons storage, no missiles, no rifles, no bombs, no bullets, no ammonium nitrate, nothing at all, neither now, nor in the past, nor in the future. The investigation will verify this," he said in statements recorded by the Lebanese News Agency (NNA). 

Hassan Nasrallah stressed that the priority at the moment is "sympathy and solidarity" rather than "political debate". In his speech he called the accusations against Hezbollah "unfair" and expressed his deepest sympathy for the people who lost their lives as a result of this massive explosion. The party secretary general has lamented that some media and political parties have claimed that the explosion is the result of materials whose origin could be linked to Hezbollah. "The aim is to tell the people and residents of Beirut that Hezbollah is behind all this, which denotes a high degree of injustice and dishonesty. Hezbollah, like everyone else, has suffered as a result of what happened, with its people and all Lebanese," he said in a television interview.

"We are facing a great national calamity by all standards, so I ask for solidarity in facing this painful test," he said. He concluded by emphasising the need for a "fair and transparent investigation". "A calamity of this kind must not be sectarian or politicized, and without an investigation and trial, the Lebanese have no hope of building a state," he warned. 

Some analysts initially announced that what had happened in pavilion number 12 in the port of Beirut could be the result of an explosion at a Hezbollah arms depot, although the main hypothesis is that it was some kind of negligence. "Hezbollah managed to build a parallel economy to the Lebanese one through its control over official public facilities, especially Beirut port, where it enters commercial materials and goods without paying fees on the basis that what it enters is under the framework of resistance," retired brigadier general Khaled Hamadeh, a military and strategic expert, told Al-Arabiya.net. This expert has criticized the fact that this party uses the port "to facilitate the process of exit and entry of goods that have become an essential part of its private economy and military structure.

These statements came at the same time that the president of the country rejected an international investigation into this catastrophic explosion and insisted that it could have been caused by "negligence or a missile". The president has reported that investigations to find the cause of this explosion will be carried out in several parts: on the origin of this material, whether the explosion was the result of negligence or an accident, and the possibility of foreign interference. 

The president of the Lebanese nation revealed last Tuesday that there was a shipment of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a common industrial chemical used mainly as fertilizer (because of its high nitrogen content) or for the manufacture of bombs, which had been stored for more than six years in the port of the capital without security measures, claiming that this situation "was unacceptable". 

Minutes after this explosion took place, rumours about its origin began to circulate in the Lebanese capital, where it was not initially ruled out that Israel, a country that has no diplomatic relations with Lebanon, was responsible. However, government sources assured that Israel had nothing to do with these explosions. Moreover, this country joined the list of nations that offered humanitarian aid to this state after the explosion. The investigations are taking place at the same time as rescue work is continuing to find the more than 100 people who disappeared in the wake of last Tuesday's disaster.