A Lebanese security official has said that the explosion could not have been caused by anything else but ammunition.
By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News
A massive explosion rocked the Burj al-Shemali Palestinian refugee camp at the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre Friday night, according to local media.
The explosion is believed to have originated in a weapons depot operated by the Gaza-based terror group Hamas.
While the state-run National News Agency initially reported 12 injured and several dead in the incident, other reports and local residents have argued that the massive explosion did not lead to any fatalities.
According to the Lebanese daily An-Nahar, a small fire caused by a faulty fuel tank spread to a nearby mosque and eventually reached the nearby Hamas weapons storehouse, causing the massive explosion, which reportedly caused extensive damage to the mosque and to nearby homes.
Meanwhile, Hamas has rejected the allegations, saying Saturday that the explosion was caused by an “electrical short circuit in a warehouse containing a quantity of oxygen and gas cylinders designated for coronavirus patients.”
This claim has been challenged by a Lebanese security official, who told Associated Press that the explosion could not have been caused by anything else but ammunition.
And while initially downplaying the scope of the damage and the number of casualties in the incident, Hamas later issued a statement saying that one of its members was killed in the explosion, referring to the incident as “a jihadist operation on behalf of the Palestinian people.”
The dead Hamas operative, identified as Hamza Shahin, was the brother of Hamza Shahin Muhammad Shahin, one of the leaders of Hamas’ security establishment operating in Turkey as part of the Construction Directorate responsible for Hamas’ military intensification in southern Lebanon, according to TPS.
Hamas’ Construction Directorate, also known as the “Construction Bureau,” is responsible for establishing extensive military infrastructure in Lebanon, meant to serve as a second front against the State of Israel in a future conflict.
In related news, Reuters reported Friday that Lebanese Judge Tarek Bitar, who is leading the probe into the Beirut port explosion that occurred in August last year, called for the arrest of several prime suspects, including former finance minister Ali Hasan Khalil, a known supporter of the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group.
Bitar has suffered repeated threats by Hezbollah-affiliated politicians, who have demanded to replace him as the judge responsible for the probe. Families of the victims of the explosion have called such demands ploys meant to “prevent the truth” from coming out. Over a year later, no suspects have been held accountable for the deadly explosion that killed over 200 people and injured about 7,000 others.