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Israel sanctions Lebanese companies aiding Hezbollah missile project

Defense Minister Gantz announces seizure of assets from three companies he says supply ‘machines, oils and ventilation systems’ for precision missiles

A Hezbollah poster and rocket launchers are seen in a mock Lebanese village as part of an IDF training program in September 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)
A Hezbollah poster and rocket launchers are seen in a mock Lebanese village as part of an IDF training program in September 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday signed a series of administrative orders to seize the assets of three Lebanese companies that Israel accuses of supplying materials to advance Hezbollah’s efforts to manufacture precision missiles.

“Hezbollah is endangering the citizens of Lebanon and the State of Lebanon. We will continue to offer humanitarian assistance to the citizens while acting resolutely in the face of the Iranian precision [missile] project operating from the heart of Lebanon,” Gantz said in a statement issued by his office.

According to the statement, it is the second time defense officials have issued such an order in recent months, joining a seizure order signed in October against the Lebanese firm, Shreif Sanitary Co.

The latest orders name three companies — Toufali, Moubayed and Barakat — and claim the firms maintain ongoing trade deals with Hezbollah of “machines, oils and ventilation systems” required for the terror group’s “production line and the precision [missile] project in particular.”

Israel alleges that Hezbollah, which already possesses many thousands of rockets believed to be aimed at Israeli population centers, has been endeavoring, with the help of its patron Iran, to manufacture more precise missiles in Lebanon.

Gantz’s announcement came days after he said that Israel had offered to assist the Lebanese Army several times in recent months.

Hezbollah fighters hold their group’s flag as they stand in front of a statue of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and swear their oath of allegiance to him, during a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of his assassination, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, on January 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

“Lebanon has unfortunately become an island of instability, and the citizens of Lebanon are not our enemies,” Gantz said to the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies. “Therefore, I offered four times this year to assist Lebanon, including last week in an application sent to the UNIFIL commander.”

Gantz did not say what response he received to the offers, but it is seen as highly unlikely that Lebanon would ever agree to cooperation with Israel, in particular with the IDF.

But shortly after the address, a number of security officials began leaking their disapproval to various news outlets, saying it was not a good look for Gantz to be making such gestures while Israel is trying to combat Hezbollah.

Israel and Lebanon are enemy states with no direct relations, and any communication occurs through third parties, including through the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, the peacekeeping mission that patrols the border.

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