Netanyahu accused Lebanon’s foreign minister of staging a “fraudulent propaganda tour” for international guests to refute damning Israeli accusations related to missile production facilities.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday criticized Lebanon and its foreign minister who led several ambassadors to locations near Beirut’s international airport, including a Hezbollah-linked soccer stadium, in an attempt to dispel Israeli revelations regarding secret Iranian and Hezbollah rocket facilities in the area.
“Hezbollah is brazenly lying to the international community by means of the fraudulent propaganda tour of the Lebanese foreign minister who took ambassadors to the soccer field but refrained from taking them to the nearby underground precision missile production facility,” Netanyahu charged.
“The ambassadors should ask themselves why they waited three days before making the tour. Hezbollah always takes care to clean the area at exposed sites,” he added.
In a speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week, Netanyahu accused Hezbollah and Iran of setting up rocket factories near the airport and hiding them among civilians, holding up an aerial image of the area with the missile sites labeled.
“It is unfortunate that the Lebanese government is sacrificing the peace of its citizens to cover for Hezbollah which has taken Lebanon hostage for its aggression against Israel,” Netanyahu stated following the tour.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil claimed his government would not allow rocket facilities near the airport and that Hezbollah is “wiser” than to place them there. He said Netanyahu’s claims were based on “inaccurate” estimates without any “compelling evidence.”
“Lebanon demands that Israel cease its madness,” he said.
Hezbollah, in fact, acts as a state within a state in Lebanon, maintains its own army and has full control of areas within Beirut and southern Lebanon that are no-go zones for the Lebanese government.
‘Long History of Covering Up Inconvenient Truths’
The IDF issued a clip attempting to prove Bassil wrong, tweeting, “Hezbollah has a long history of covering up inconvenient truths and then parading foreign officials around.”
“Maybe this time ask why [a] missile workshop [is] located so close to [an international] airport in [the] heart of Beirut?” it added.
#Hezbollah has a long history of covering up inconvenient truths and then parading foreign officials around. Maybe this time ask why missile workshop located so close to int’l #airport in heart of #Beirut?#maybethetruththistime pic.twitter.com/SFpqmw7ztq
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDFSpokesperson) October 1, 2018
One stop on the Lebanese tour of Beirut was a warehouse in Ouzai, a Hezbollah-dominated neighborhood near the airport, which appeared to have been abandoned and was littered with plastic bags and napkins. It was not clear if the warehouse was one of the sites mentioned by Netanyahu.
The tour did not go to a third site identified by Netanyahu, a dock by the waterfront.
However, Russian Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin, whose country along with Hezbollah is a close ally of the Syrian government, appeared to be fully convinced when he described the tour as “very good.”