Hezbollah leader denies existence of ‘missile factory’ in Beirut

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu reveals explosive storage site in UN General Assembly speech

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, speaks beside an image entitled "Hezbollah's 'Ticking Bombs' in Beirut" during the United Nations General Assembly seen on a laptop computer in Hastings on the Hudson, New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. The United Nations General Assembly met in a virtual environment for the first time in its 75-year history due to the pandemic. Photographer: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg
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The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, on Tuesday said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was lying about missile sites in Lebanon.

"A short while ago the enemy's prime minister spoke directly in a speech at the United Nations, saying things in order to incite the Lebanese people against Hezbollah, as usual," Mr Nasrallah said.

Mr Netanyahu used his address to the UN General Assembly debate on Tuesday to tell of an Iran-backed Hezbollah "missile factory" in a Beirut suburb.

He said his country had identified a "secret arms depot" in an area of the Lebanese capital near the international airport.

epa08706493 A grab photo made from Hezbollah's al-Manar TV shows Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah giving a speech in Beirut, Lebanon, 29 September 2020. Reports state Sayyed Nasrallah hits back at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who claimed that Hezbollah allegedly has a missile factory south of Beirut and said Lebanese media outlets are called upon to tour in the area in a bid to refute Netanyahu's lies.  EPA/WAEL HAMZEH HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah giving a speech in Beirut on September 29. EPA

Mr Netanyahu said the site in the neighbourhood of Janah, which is near a gas company and housing, could lead to another explosion like the one that devastated Beirut last month.

Lebanon has been pushed to breaking point by a financial meltdown and a political vacuum after the resignation of the caretaker government over the August blast.

The explosion, which killed at least 190 people and wounded about 6,500, was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that was poorly stored for years.

"I say to the people of Janah, you've got to act now," Mr Netanyahu said. "You've got to protest against this, because if this thing explodes it's another tragedy.

"I say to the people of Lebanon, Israel means you no harm. But Iran does.

"Iran and Hezbollah have deliberately put you and your families in grave danger.

"And what you should make clear is that what they have done is unacceptable. You should tell them, tear these depots down."

The Israeli military spokesman's office said after Mr Netanyahu's speech that Israel and the Israeli Defence Forces had reported the site, and others, "numerous times, both to the UN and additional diplomatic networks, as well as through various media channels".

"The exposure of these sites today was made with the aim of calling the Lebanese government again, with the support of the international community, to intervene in the matter and to allow Lebanese civilians to protect themselves," the office said.

A photo displayed by Mr Netanyahu during his speech, which purportedly showed the entrance to the site, was taken in Beirut, suggesting Israeli intelligence provided it.