Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Way to go UN-no arms allowed yet look what just happened...

Explosion strikes Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon

Blast reportedly takes place at Hezbollah weapons depot in southern Lebanon, where the group is banned from holding arms • UNIFIL will investigate source of explosion, which comes 10 days after mysterious blast at Iranian military base.
Israel Hayom Staff

A massive explosion was reported in southern Lebanon overnight Tuesday, at a site widely believed to be an illegal arms depot belonging to Hezbollah. The blast comes just ten days after a similar explosion at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard base near Tehran that left 17 officers dead, including the architect of Iran's missile defense program. A Lebanese security source told The Daily Star newspaper that security forces were unable to approach the site of the explosion near Siddiqin in the southern coastal city of Tyre because Hezbollah officials had cordoned off the area.

Hezbollah officials told The Daily Star they had no comment on the blast. There were no reports of injuries.

Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and several European countries. The organization is banned from maintaining weapons south of the Litani River – including the area where Wednesday's blast occurred – in accordance with U.N. Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and the Shiite group.

Israeli and Lebanese media reported on Wednesday that Israel Air Force jets could be seen flying over the site at around 10 a.m., and a United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) helicopter was also reportedly seen flying over the village.

U.N. peacekeepers have been deployed in southern Lebanon since 1978 to monitor the border with Israel, and their forces were boosted to almost 12,000 troops after the 34-day war in 2006. UNIFIL on Wednesday said it would investigate the blast.

"We have no information at the moment," UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti told The Daily Star. "We are checking this report."

Over the summer, an explosion rocked Hezbollah's headquarters in a south Beirut suburb that killed one person and also reportedly injured convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar, who was freed in a 2008 prisoner exchange between Israel and Hezbollah. At the time of that explosion, Hezbollah security forces also blocked off the area and reportedly fired into the air to disperse curious crowds that had gathered at the site.

Kuwait's daily newspaper Al-Jareeda reported that the summer blast may have been an Israeli assassination attempt aimed at Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

More recently, a massive explosion in Iran killed 17 troops including Brig. Gen. Hassan Moqaddam the officer regarded as the architect of Iran's missile defenses program. Iranian armed forces chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi said the blast took place during research on weapons that could strike Israel.

Iran has insisted the blast at a military base ten days ago, which rattled window and nerves in parts of the capital Tehran 45 km (28 miles) away, was an accident and denied speculation of possible sabotage by Israel or the U.S. However, other reports suggested that the explosion was part of a covert war led by Israel aimed at thwarting Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"This recent incident and blast has no link to Israel or America but the outcome of the research, in which the incident happened as a consequence, could be a strong smack to the mouth of Israel and its occupying regime," armed forces chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi was quoted as telling the student news agency ISNA.

When asked by Army Radio about the scope of damage from the blast, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he did not know, but added: "May there be many more like it." There was no indication that the explosion was a deliberate attack.

Iranian officials had previously said the accident happened while munitions were being moved at the base, without linking it directly to weapons research. Iran already has missiles, the Shahab-3, first tested in 1998, that it says could reach Israel, which has threatened to strike Iran's nuclear sites if diplomacy and pressure fail to stop its nuclear ambitions.

British newspaper the Guardian reported that Israel’s Mossad may have been behind the blast. "I believe that [the] explosion was part of the covert war against Iran, led by Israel," a former director of an Iranian state-run organization told the Guardian on condition of anonymity.

The source recalled a blast at a missile base near the Iranian city of Khorramabad in October 2010 that was similar to the incident in Iran nearly two weeks ago. During that explosion, at least 27 soldiers were killed. Iranian authorities claimed they had been transporting ammunition at the base. Then, too, the regime denied any hints of foreign sabotage aimed at damaging Iran's nuclear facilities.

However, the Iranian source told the Guardian, "I have information that both these incidents were the work of sabotage by agents of Israel, aimed at halting Iran's missile program."

The Iranian source's comments echoed other recent reports on possible Israeli involvement in the explosion near Tehran. TIME magazine quoted a Western intelligence official as also saying the Mossad was responsible for the blast.

"Don't believe the Iranians that it was an accident," the official said, adding that other sabotage attacks were being planned to hinder Iran's plans to develop nuclear weapons. "There are more bullets in the magazine," the official said.

Richard Silverstein, an American blogger, first suggested an Israeli link to the Iranian explosion. Silverstein claimed that an Israeli official "with extensive political and military experience" provided him with exclusive information according to which the Mossad and Iranian opposition group Mujahedin Khalq were responsible for the explosion on the Iranian base.

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