Beirut death toll rises as fingers point to Hezbollah

Iran-backed terror group threatened chemical “atomic bomb” in Haifa and was also caught stockpiling ammonium nitrate.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The death toll in the devastating Beirut explosion climbed to 154 Friday as rescue workers continued to sift through the rubble of collapsed buildings.

The explosion Tuesday of a warehouse containing thousands of tons of the chemical ammonium nitrate also left up to five thousand people wounded and overloaded Beirut’s hospitals.

Frustrated and angry Lebanese staged anti-government protests near the parliament Thursday night, calling for the resignation of Lebanon’s political elite.

Fingers are being pointed at Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terror group that controls much of Lebanon’s politics and has a stranglehold on the operations of the port, where the explosion occurred.

Although no evidence has emerged yet directly linking Hezbollah to the thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate that blew up in the Beirut port warehouse, experts noted that Hezbollah has a history with the chemical.

Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which regularly tracks Iran and the proxy terrorist groups it sponsors, doubts Hezbollah is innocent.

“The fact that a massive amount of explosive material was just sitting in the Port of Beirut – long suspected to be exploited by Hezbollah for illicit trade and smuggling – raises troubling questions about whether the Iran-backed terror group, which is the political glue that holds together Lebanon’s current government, had any intentions of deploying that material in an attack,” Schanzer wrote in an op-ed in Al Arabiya.

“The group has turned the Lebanese population into human shields for its arsenal that is designed to wage war against Israel,” Schanzer said.

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Schanzer said that the frustration of Lebanese people “is now boiling over.”

Hezbollah made headlines in the past when it threatened to cause an explosion in Israel similar to the chemical blast that tore through Beirut.

In February of 2016 Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah threatened that in the event of a future conflict with the Jewish State, he would hit Israel’s chemical storage facilities in the city of Haifa to generate the equivalent of a “nuclear bomb” .

At the time, the ammonia containers that were located in the port city contained more than 15 thousand tons of the deadly chemical. Estimates of a strike on the tanks put a potential Israeli death toll at 600,000, but the tanks have since been relocated.

Previous reports in the Daily Telegraph showed that Hezbollah also was looking for large quantities of ammonium nitrate, the same chemical that caused the massive blast Tuesday in Beirut that devastated a large part of the city.

Hezbollah members and affiliates had previously been caught in London and Cyprus with large quantities of ammonium nitrate, the Telegraph reported.

As well, leaked diplomatic papers revealed that Hezbollah tried to get more ammonium nitrate through Syria, which may have been the reason Hezbollah sought to control of the Lebanese ministry of agriculture.