Lebanon ex-interior minister accuses Israel of involvement in Beirut blast

Lebanon ex-interior minister accuses Israel of involvement in Beirut blast
Former interior minister Nohad Machnouk said Israel was 'clearly' responsible for the devastating blast at Beirut's port.
3 min read
13 August, 2020
The huge chemical explosion that hit Beirut's port has claimed over 170 lives [AFP/Getty]
A former Lebanese interior minister has accused Israel of involvement in the catastrophic blast at Beirut's port last week.

The August 4 detonation of an abandoned shipment of ammonium nitrate in Beirut port's Hangar 12, after an initial blast and fire, has cost more than 170 lives, injured thousands and left hundreds of thousands temporarily homeless. 

Former interior minister Nohad Machnouk said Israel was "clearly" responsible at a press conference on Wednesday, Asia Times reported.

"This operation in Beirut was carried out by Israel in a clear and explicit manner," Machnouk said. "It is clear we are looking at a crime against humanity, and therefore no one dares to claim responsibility for it."

Israeli government sources denied any involvement in the incident soon after the explosion occurred and hours later the government offered humanitarian aid to Lebanon.

Read more: Israel's Lebanon aid offer unlikely to find a taker

Machnouk, who was appointed interior minister in 2016, is the first senior Lebanese politician to point the finger at Israel.

The explosion is widely believed to have been triggered by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at the port unsafely after its confiscation by Port of Beirut Customs in 2013.

Machnouk claimed in his comments on Wednesday that half the amount of ammonium nitrate had been stolen.

"What judge would dare to declare that the size of the explosion was 1,350 tonnes, not 2,750?” he said.