July 23, 2019 / 9:59 PM / a month ago

Lebanon accuses Israel of threatening civilian infrastructure

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses a United Nations General Assembly meeting ahead of a vote on a draft resolution that would deplore the use of excessive force by Israeli troops against Palestinian civilians at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Lebanon accused Israel on Tuesday of threatening its civilian infrastructure after Israel told the United Nations Security Council that Iran was exploiting the Port of Beirut to smuggle weapons to the Hezbollah movement.

Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, said that in 2018 and 2019, “Israel found that Iran and the Quds Force have begun to advance the exploitation of the civilian maritime channels, and specifically the Port of Beirut.”

“The Port of Beirut is now the Port of Hezbollah,” Danon told the 15-member Security Council. Israel sees Hezbollah, against which it fought a month-long war in 2006, as the biggest threat on its borders.

Lebanese U.N. Ambassador Amal Mudallali said the Lebanese saw such accusations a “direct threats on their peace and civilian infrastructure.” Hezbollah is part of Lebanon’s coalition government.

“If he is using them to prepare the ground and the international community for an attack on Lebanon’s civilian ports and airport and its infrastructure - as they did in 2006 - this council should not stay silent,” she said.

Speaking in the council later on Tuesday, Iran’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Eshagh Al-Habib, did not directly address the Israeli accusations, but said Danon had “unsuccessfully tried to distract attention away from the crimes and unlawful policies of its regime.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Peter Cooney

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