JERUSALEM, Israel – Just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exposed secret Iranian missile conversion sites in Lebanon, the Lebanese government took diplomats on tour to supposedly prove he was wrong.
Pedestrians in Beirut, Photo, AP Screen Capture
Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil accused Netanyahu of telling lies about Lebanon to protect himself.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil speaks with the press, Photo, AP Screen Capture
"Based on inaccurate security estimates and facts, without any compelling evidence, let alone the undocumented aerial image that does not contain any proof, Netanyahu claimed to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 27th September, 2018, that there are three missile conversion sites near Beirut airport," Bassil told foreign ambassadors in Beirut on Monday.
Soccer Field in Beirut, Photo, AP Screen Capture
But Bassil admitted that Hezbollah does indeed possess the accurate missiles.
"It is true that there are many statements made affirming the possession of accurate missiles by Hezbollah; however, this does not mean that those missiles are present in the vicinity of Beirut," Bassil said.
Late last month, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah boasted that his group now possesses 'highly accurate' missiles despite Israel's attempts to thwart the acquisitions.
Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Photo, PressTV Screen Capture
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government but is considered a terrorist organization by the US.
According to reports Tuesday, the UK is also planning to outlaw the terror group.
Hezbollah has been active in the Syrian civil war on the side of President Bashar Assad.
Last week at the UN Netanyahu blasted Hezbollah and Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Addresses the UN General Assembly last week, Photo, GPO
"In Lebanon, Iran is directing Hezbollah to build secret sites to convert inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles, missiles that can target deep inside Israel within an accuracy of 10 meters," Netanyahu told the General Assembly.
"Hezbollah is deliberately using the innocent people of Beirut as human shields. They've placed three of these missile conversion sites along Beirut's international airport," Netanyahu said then.
Netanyahu listed three sites near the airport: one on the waterfront a few blocks from the runway, a second underneath a soccer stadium, a third adjacent to the airport itself.
The Israel Defense Forces released a video at about the same time showing the sites.
Calling it a diplomatic confrontation, Bassil took dozens of ambassadors on a tour of the sites. They included the soccer stadium and a walk through a neighborhood that's a Hezbollah stronghold.
Netanyahu responded in a statement.
"Hezbollah is brazenly lying to the international community by means of the fraudulent propaganda tour of the Lebanese foreign minister who took ambassadors to the soccer field but refrained from taking them to the nearby underground precision missile production facility.
"The ambassadors should ask themselves why they waited three days before making the tour. Hezbollah always takes care to clean the area at exposed sites.
"It is unfortunate that the Lebanese government is sacrificing the peace of its citizens to cover for Hezbollah, which has taken Lebanon hostage for its aggression against Israel," he concluded.
Last week at the UN, Netanyahu said he had a message for Hezbollah.
"Israel also knows what you're doing. Israel knows where you're doing it. And Israel will not let you get away with it," he warned.