Text size

Five Lebanese, including a senior Hezbollah operative, were killed yesterday in an explosion at the organization's munitions dump near the city of Tyre in South Lebanon, media reported.

Hezbollah denied the reports, saying that only one person was injured in a dud blast.

According to a Lebanese army official quoted by Reuters, senior Hezbollah operative Said Nasser Abdel Issa and his son were among the five people killed in the blast. Lebanese television reported that the Shi'ite group denied all media access to the area, which was totally sealed off.

Hezbollah's TV channel, Al-Manar, continued its scheduled programming for many hours before Hezbollah officials went on the air to try to play down the event. They said the explosion was caused by an old shell and that only one person had been injured.

The Israeli Defense Forces has asked the UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon to investigate the explosion, describing it as further proof that Hezbollah was consistently violating UN Resolution 1701, which prohibits arms south of the Litani River. Sources said Israel would publish drone footage of the fire caused by the blast to strengthen its claims.

Israel blames 'work accident'

Military sources told Haaretz they believed the explosion stemmed from a "work accident" and stressed that no Israeli military unit was involved in any way. They said the explosion revealed only a small part of a vast Hezbollah arsenal south of the river, concealed among civilian population.

"You have to understand that similar things are happening in dozens of Shi'ite villages south of the Litani," one source said.

On July 14, another munitions dump containing rockets blew up in the village of Hirbet-Salim in southern Lebanon.

The explosion became a major political embarrassment for Hezbollah, which was formally condemned by the UN Security Council. Israel used the July blast and drone footage of the ensuing fire to bolster its claims about Hezbollah violating Resolution 1701.

The border with Lebanon has been tense for several months, mostly because of Hezbollah's repeated threat to avenge the 2008 assassination of its chief of operations, Imad Mughniyeh. Israel continually denies involvement in the killing.

Over the last year, three Katyusha rockets have been fired into Israel, but by militant Sunni groups not aligned with Hezbollah.