In the early morning of 17 December, a loud explosion was heard in the town of Tair Harfa in southern Lebanon. The town is in the Tyre district, northeast of Naqura, 2.5 kilometers from the Israeli border. Lebanese media did not report any injuries, and this was confirmed by the mayor of Tair Harfa. Three houses were slightly damaged by the blast.
The explosion occurred in a munitions depot belonging to Hizbullah. The building where the munitions were stored is located on the outskirts of the town near residential dwellings. There is a school about 300 meters from the munitions depot.
Immediately following the explosion, dozens of Hizbullah men sealed off the area and proceeded to erase all evidence of the incident, flattening the warehouse and removing what was left of the arms and explosives that had been stored there. UNIFIL soldiers arrived in the area, but access to the actual site of the blast was blocked by Hizbullah. Lebanese army soldiers were also denied access to the site.
This is the fourth explosion that has occurred in the last few years in Hizbullah munitions depots in South Lebanon:
- 14 July 2009 – Explosion in a munitions depot near Khirbat Slim
- 12 October 2009 – Explosion in a munitions depot in Tayr Falsay
- 3 Sept 2010 – Explosion in a munitions depot in a neighborhood of Shehabiyya, Kafr Dunin, east of Tyre. The munitions were stored a few hundred meters from a mosque, in a three-story villa belonging to a Hizbullah operative.
These incidents took place in areas under the responsibility of UNIFIL and constitute a clear violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which calls for the disarmament of the Hizbullah and prohibits the storage of arms near the border with Israel.
The Hizbullah’s military network in southern Lebanon includes munitions depots as well as military outposts. Most of the military infrastructure is located in populated areas, in dozens of Shiite villages in the south (such as al-Khayyam).
The arms, missiles and explosives are stored near residential homes and other civilian buildings such as schools and mosques. Hizbullah is endangering innocent Lebanese civilians, in order to conceal its military activity in southern Lebanon, in direct contravention of UN Resolution 1701.
On 20 December, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Ron Prosor, sent a letter to the UN Secretary General and to the President of the Security Council demanding the enforcement of Resolution 1701.
Ambassador Prosor warned that "the failure to enforce the arms embargo in Lebanon undermines the basic fabric of security and stability in our region. It could have catastrophic consequences." He mentioned the very real prospect that "Assad’s vast stockpiles of chemical weapons could soon fall into Hizbullah’s hands. The international community does not have the luxury of ignoring this dangerous reality any longer," the ambassador wrote.
Ambassador Prosor called on the Security Council and the international community to send a clear signal that Hizbullah’s rearmament would not be tolerated. He suggested that "a logical first step is to ensure that Hizbullah is placed on relevant terrorism watch lists in all corners of the globe, including in the European Union."