Israel unveiled new details Thursday about Iran’s shadow operation in Lebanon, days after a string of attacks blamed on Israel against Iranian-allied targets in three countries ratcheted up tensions across the Middle East.
The Israeli army accused Iran and Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, of pushing forward with an operation to produce precision-guided missiles on Lebanese soil, a program that Israel said puts Lebanese civilians in danger.
Israel’s accusations followed a drone strike outside a Hezbollah media center in the southern suburbs of Beirut early Sunday, which Hezbollah attributed to Israel. Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary general, vowed a response against what he called “a new phase imposed by the enemy.”
Israel neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the Beirut drone strike, but Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, told reporters on Thursday that Iran’s missile operation in Lebanon has used sites in and around the capital. He also said that Hezbollah “does not yet have an industrial capacity” to manufacture the missiles in question on a mass scale.
“What we’re doing is trying to shed light on the strategic picture and on the context of what’s going on,” he said, “to convey to the Iranians and perhaps most importantly, the Lebanese government, that it’s time for them to understand their responsibility and the fact that what they’re letting Hezbollah and Iran do on Lebanese soil is endangering Lebanese civilians.”
Israel named three members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and one Hezbollah operative as the key masterminds of the operation.
The Iranian officials were identified as Muhammed Hussein-Zada Hejazi, commander of the Lebanon corps in Iran’s Quds force; Nuab Majid, the technological manger of the missile project; and Ali Asrar Nuruzi, the operations’ chief logistics officer.
The Hezbollah operative was identified as Fuad Shukr, a senior operative wanted by the U.S. State Department for planning and carrying out a 1983 attack on U.S. Marines in Beirut that killed 241 service personnel.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · James McAuley, Liz Sly