Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday said during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York that Hezbollah had placed three precision missile sites near Beirut’s airport.
“Here’s a picture that’s worth a thousand missiles, here’s Beirut’s international airport,” Netanyahu said, holding up an image with the alleged missile sites marked with big red dots. He claimed the first site was in the Ouzai neighborhood, “on the water’s edge, a few blocks away from the runway.”
The second site, he said, was under the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium, and the third site was “adjacent to the airport itself, right next to it.”
“So I have a message for Hezbollah today, Israel also knows what you’re doing, Israel knows where you’re doing it, and Israel will not let you get away with it.”
The Israeli military on Thursday also released satellite images of the three sites in Beirut that it says are being used by the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group to hide underground precision missile production facilities.
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.”
Netanyahu accused Hezbollah of “deliberately using the innocent people of Beirut as human shields.”
According to the Israel Defense Forces, Hezbollah began working on these surface-to-surface missile facilities last year.
Reports that Iran was constructing underground missile conversion factories in Lebanon first emerged in March 2017.
Since then, Israeli officials have repeatedly said that Israel would not abide such facilities.
In January, Netanyahu said Lebanon “is becoming a factory for precision-guided missiles that threaten Israel. These missiles pose a grave threat to Israel, and we will cannot accept this threat.”
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 May, Netanyahu said Israel was “operating against the transfer of deadly weapons from Syria to Lebanon or their manufacture in Lebanon.”
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.