Israel makes aid offer to Lebanon after Beirut blast

The explosion has left at least 100 dead and over 4,000 injured


Israel has made an offer of humanitarian aid to Lebanon, hours after its capital Beirut was rocked by a warehouse explosion that is believed to have left at least 100 dead and over 4,000 injured.  

Tuesday’s offer is the first time that Israel has extended a formal offer of humanitarian support to Lebanon, a state in whose territory it has fought two wars since 1982, and with which it has been locked in a formal state of war since 1948.

“Israel has approached Lebanon through international security and diplomatic channels and has offered the Lebanese government medical and humanitarian assistance,” a statement from Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said.

The offer was made after a huge explosion at Beirut’s port tore through the city, with the sound of the blast heard as far away as Cyprus – over 160km away. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had instructed National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat to discuss with the UN Special Envoy Nickolay Mladenov how Israel could offer assistance.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, in English, Arabic and Hebrew, similarly extended offer of aid and sent condolences, writing: “We share the pain of the Lebanese people and sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time.”

It is understood that the Israeli aid offer was made via France and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a peacekeeping force along the borer with Israel.

Other political figures and institution in Israel, including the military and hospitals, echoed Israel’s offer of support.  

Lebanon, which is home to Hezbollah, a sworn enemy of Israel, is unlikely to accept the offer.

Tensions on the Israeli-Lebanese border have recently been high, after Israel checked an attempted infiltration attempt by five Hezbollah militants at the end of July.

Israel officials anonymously denied that the country had any involvement with the blast in Beirut.

Lebanon had already been grappling with a coronavirus surge and economic collapse.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that the explosion, which went off shortly after 6pm local time, was caused by 2.750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertiliser and bomb production, which had been stored at Beirut main port without safety measures for the past six years.

The cause of the initial fire that triggered the explosion is still unknown, although Reuters reported that its sources suggested that welding work was being conducted at the warehouse.

Among other countries, France and Qatar dispatched aid and support teams to Lebanon, while the UK and the United States said that they were “ready” to provide support.

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