Israel Dismisses Claims it Was Responsible for Beirut Bombing; Syrian Arrested for Similar July Attack
Lebanese politicians pointed a finger at Israel Thursday after a devastating car bomb, detonated in terror group Hezbollah’s southern Beirut stronghold, left 24 people dead.
President Michel Suleiman condemned the explosion which took place in the city’s Dahiyeh quarter saying it had Israel’s fingerprints on it.
“Israel wants to cause an earthquake in the region, and seeks to destabilize Lebanon,” he was reported as saying.
Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri blamed the deadly bombing on “the hand of organized crime and terrorism,” also saying “it is undoubtedly a black Israeli hand.”
“This crime only serves the Israeli enemy, which has been plotting to undermine the elements of national unity that were the elements that led to Lebanon’s victory in 2006,” Berri said in a statement.
The claims elicited a strong response from Israeli President Shimon Peres Friday. During a meeting in Jerusalem with UN Secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, Peres said, “Why blame Israel? It is Hezbollah that is amassing bombs and killing people in Syria without the permission of the Lebanese government.”
Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom told Army Radio on Friday that Israel has “gotten used to accusations of this kind.”
“They should be ignored,” Yatom said. “There is almost no act in the Middle East that Israel’s opponents don’t attribute to it. But these are internal matters for these countries. We have enough problems of our own, so it wouldn’t be wise to get involved.”
Meanwhile, on Friday Lebanon’s Daily Star reported that a Syrian national had been arrested over a similar car bombing that took place in the same area of Beirut in July.
Further contradicting Lebanese claims of Israeli involvement was the fact that an organization called Brigades of Aisha Umm al-Moemeneen took responsibility for the Thursday bombing.
Footage circulated on YouTube showing three masked gunmen threatening Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and promising similar attacks in the future.
Joshua Levitt contributed to this report.