JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday accused the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah of maintaining a "secret arms depot" in a residential neighborhood of Beirut, warning it could cause another tragic explosion in the Lebanese capital.
Hezbollah denied the allegations and invited international and local media to immediately visit the site, where they found a small factory housing heavy machinery but no weapons.
In an address to the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu pointed to maps purportedly showing the missile depot's location next to a gas company and residential housing, not far from Beirut's international airport. He also showed what he said was a picture of the entrance to the depot.
"Here's where the next explosion will take place, right here," he said.
“You’ve got to act now, you’ve got to protest this, because if this thing explodes, it’s another tragedy," Netanyahu said, addressing the Lebanese people. "You should tell them, 'Tear these depots down.'”
Last month, a warehouse filled with nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in Beirut's port, killing nearly 200 people, wounding thousands and causing widespread destruction in the capital.
The ammonium nitrate had been stored there for several years after being removed from an impounded cargo ship. No one has yet been held accountable for the blast, which appears to have been triggered by an accidental fire.
Israel has long accused Hezbollah of storing weapons and maintaining military posts in civilian areas, especially in the southern suburbs of Beirut and southern Lebanon, both strongholds of support for the Iran-backed militant group.