Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday denied Israeli accusations that his terror group was using the port in Beirut to smuggle parts for weapons manufacturing into Lebanon.
“I categorically deny the claims by Israel’s UN envoy that Hezbollah is using Beirut’s port to ship arms into Lebanon,” Nasrallah was quoted saying by the Lebanese news site Naharnet.
Speaking Tuesday at the United Nations Security Council, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon accused Iran of exploiting civilian companies and maritime channels to smuggle weapons manufacturing equipment to its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.
Danon said Israeli intelligence has uncovered evidence showing Iran’s Quds Force has been using the port of Beirut to ship items to Hezbollah since last year.
“Iran and the Quds Force have begun to advance the exploitation of the civilian maritime channels, and specifically the port of Beirut,” Danon said. “The port of Beirut has become the port of Hezbollah.”
Danon presented the Security Council with a map of the Hezbollah transfer routes that include major hubs at the Damascus airport, Beirut’s port and airport and the official border crossings between Syria and Lebanon, such as the Masnaa crossings.
He said the weapons transfers violated UN resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Hezbollah and Israel.
“His [Danon’s] words were said in order to prepare the ground for taking over the operations at the ports and the airport and to accomplish what they couldn’t succeed [in doing] during the Second Lebanon War,” Nasrallah said in his speech Friday, according to Israel’s Ynet news site.
Nasrallah denied Hezbollah is calling the shots in Lebanon, saying this is “the biggest lie.”
Israel and the US have accused Hezbollah, which holds seats in Lebanon’s parliament, of having an outside influence on Lebanese affairs and acting at the behest of Iran.
Earlier this month, the United States slapped sanctions on a pair of Hezbollah lawmakers, accusing them of using their parliamentary powers to advance terror activity.
It was the first time the US has imposed sanctions on the Iranian-backed organization’s lawmakers.
Hezbollah condemned the sanctions, with its parliamentary bloc saying they would “change nothing in our convictions or in our rejection of and resistance to Israeli occupation and terrorism, or towards American policies.”
AFP contributed to this report.