The Jerusalem Post covered our exclusive conversation with Ambassador Danny Danon, outgoing permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations.
The international community should pressure the Lebanese government to oust the militant group Hezbollah from Lebanon in the aftermath of the explosion in the port of Beirut, outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the Jewish group B’nai B’rith on Thursday.
“We should all demand more from the Lebanese government to push Hezbollah out of the government out of the border with Israel,” said Danon who has just finished a five year term as Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in New York, where he was a vocal critic of Hezbollah.
He spoke with B’nai B’rith in an virtual interview that was posted on YouTube on Thursday in the aftermath of the massive explosion at the Beirut Port that killed at least 154 people.
The cause of the explosion has yet to be determined, but Danon told B’nai B’rith that while he was UN ambassador he warned the UN Security Council that Hezbollah was storing weapons at the port.
“Last year when I spoke in the security council, I said very clearly that the port of Beirut had become the port of Hezbollah,” Danon said.
His words, he said, were base on intelligence reports.
“We got the intelligence and I spoke about it publicly, that [Hezbollah is] actually using the airports and the ports to transport the weapons and other things that are dangerous,” Danon said.
“We all respect the Lebanese people. We know that they are suffering… We send our condolences to the people there,” Danon said.
“But we do criticize not only Hezbollah, but also the Lebanese government, because they allow Hezbllah to do those activities,” Danon said.
But he also leveled criticize against Western countries, including the United States and France, for providing financial assistance to the Lebanese government and its army while not doing enough to ensure that action was taken against Hezbollah.
“I tell them that it’s okay to support the Lebanese government, the Lebanese military, but you have to demand more,” Danon said.
“When we see cooperation between Hezbollah and the Lebanese army, you ask yourself why the US or other countries should give any funding to this army that has allowed Hezbollah to take over,” Danon said.
In 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also warned the UN about Hezbollah, telling the UN General Assembly that Hezbollah had missile sites in Beirut. He showed a map of four sites, including by the city’s port.
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun said on Friday an investigation into the biggest blast in Beirut's history would examine whether it was caused by a bomb or other external interference, as residents tried to rebuild their shattered lives after the explosion.
The search for those missing has intensified, as rescuers sifted rubble in a race to find anyone still alive after Tuesday's blast that smashed up a swathe of the city and sent seismic shockwaves around the region.
"The cause has not been determined yet. There is a possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act," Aoun said in comments carried by local media and confirmed by his office.
He said it would also consider whether the explosion was due to negligence or an accident. He previously said highly explosive material had been stored in unsafe conditions for years at the port. A source has said an initial probe blamed negligence related to storage of the explosive material.
The United States has previously said it has not ruled out an attack. Israel, which has fought several wars with Lebanon, has also previously denied it had any role.
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