Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday dismissed as a “farce” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s UN speech in which he accused the group of secretly constructing underground missile production facilities near Beirut’s international airport.
“Netanyahu’s psychological warfare over the missiles was a farce,” Nasrallah said in a speech.
However, he did not confirm or deny the details of Israel’s assertions, saying: “Our silence over our weapons is deliberate and purposeful.”
The terror group’s leader said his policy was one of “constructive ambiguity” so as not to provide “free information” to his enemies.
“We should not help the enemy in its psychological warfare against our country, people and government,” Nasrallah said,
The missile sites were first revealed by Netanyahu during his September 27 speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
The factories, which are meant to convert regular missiles into more accurate precision ones, are not believed to be up and running. The Israel Defense Forces said they are currently being constructed with Iranian assistance.
According to Netanyahu, these precision missiles are capable of striking within 10 meters (32 feet) of their given target. Hezbollah is believed to have an arsenal of between 100,000 and 150,000 rockets and missiles, though the vast majority are thought to lack precision technology.
They army said the facilities are “another example of Iranian entrenchment in the region and the negative influence of Iran.”
Holding up aerial photos of the alleged Hezbollah facilities, Netanyahu warned: “Israel knows what you are doing, Israel knows where you are doing it, and Israel will not let you get away with it.”
Netanyahu accused the Lebanese terror group of “deliberately using the innocent people of Beirut as human shields.”
One of the alleged sites is located under a soccer field used by a Hezbollah-sponsored team; another is just north of the Rafik Hariri International Airport; and the third is underneath the Beirut port and less than 500 meters from the airport’s tarmac.
These three are not the only facilities that the IDF believes are being used by Hezbollah for the manufacturing and storage of precision missiles.
“Israel is monitoring these sites with a variety of capabilities and tools, has significant knowledge of the precision project and is working to fight it with a variety of operational responses, techniques and tools,” the army said.
In recent years, Israel has acknowledged conducting hundreds of airstrikes in Syria, which it says were aimed at both preventing Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria and blocking the transfer of advanced munitions to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Israeli Air Force has largely abstained from conducting raids inside Lebanon itself, though it has indicated that it was prepared to do so.
Earlier this year, IAF chief Amiram Norkin showed visiting generals a picture of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter flying next to Beirut’s airport, in what was seen as a direct message to Hezbollah.
Israel fought a punishing war with Hezbollah in 2006. Jerusalem believes the group has since re-armed with tens of thousands of missiles that can threaten all of Israel.
Following Netanyahu’s speech, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil took 73 foreign envoys on a tour of the alleged sites in a bid to disprove the Israeli accusations.
Bassil said 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.”
Nasrallah recently boasted that his group now possesses “highly accurate” missiles despite Israeli attempts to prevent it from acquiring such weapons.
Bassil acknowledged Hezbollah’s claims, but said “this doesn’t mean that those missiles are present in the vicinity of Beirut airport.”
Netanyahu later dismissed the event as a “fraudulent propaganda tour” and accused Hezbollah of “brazenly lying” to the international community.