It is a singular voice in the middle of the concert of support received by Lebanon immediately after the two explosions which devastated Beirut: on Tuesday evening Israel offered "humanitarian and medical" aid to its neighbor, bereaved by the death of more than 113 people, while there are more than 4,000 injured and 300,000 homeless in the Lebanese capital. This aid is not obvious because, after two deadly conflicts, the two countries are technically at war.
"Humanity comes before any conflict"
"Israel has turned to Lebanon through international security and political contacts to offer humanitarian and medical aid to the Lebanese government," the Israeli foreign and defense ministries said in a statement Tuesday evening.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, offered the government's condolences to the Lebanese people on Wednesday during a debate in parliament. Tel Aviv will also illuminate its city hall with the Lebanese flag in solidarity with the country of the Cedars. "Humanity comes before any conflict and our hearts are with the Lebanese people after the terrible disaster that befell them," tweeted Ron Huldai, the mayor of the Israeli coastal metropolis and member of the Labor Party.
While a former Swedish prime minister was publicly astonished at the aid offered by Israel, the Hebrew State Minister of Strategic Affairs Orit Farkash Hacohen directly replied: "Why are you surprised? Israel is defending itself. itself its enemies, while helping the civilian populations where it can, ”she said. The country had thus helped Turkey (2011) and Iran (2017), two of its enemies, after deadly earthquakes.
Israel's immediate denial
These testimonies of support were accompanied by a strong denial published on Tuesday evening on the possible involvement of Israel in these explosions. Three hours after the explosions, the Lebanese authorities thus attributed the cause of these explosions to "explosive materials confiscated for years", a version then clarified by the revelation of negligence and a very large stock of ammonium nitrate in a port warehouse.
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"I see no reason to doubt the information emanating from Beirut (…) this is an accident which seems to have been caused by a fire," said the head of Israeli diplomacy, Gabi Ashkenazi, Tuesday evening. "Israel has nothing to do with this incident", also commented to AFP a government source requesting anonymity.
Hezbollah at the heart of tensions
The denials come as tension between the two countries has escalated in recent days, with the Israeli army on high alert at the Lebanese border. Last week, after months of relative calm, Israel said it foiled a "terrorist" attack and opened fire on gunmen who crossed the "Blue Line" between Lebanon and Israel, before they returned to the Lebanese side. .
Benjamin Netanyahu, attributed the infiltration to Hezbollah, a pro-Iranian armed movement very influential in Lebanon and whom the Jewish state regards as its enemy. On the morning of the explosions, the Israeli Prime Minister also warned the Lebanon-based movement. Accused of "playing with fire", Hezbollah has denied any involvement in this infiltration.