A tragedy and a mystery in Beirut

It’s hard to remember that Beirut was once called the Paris of the Mediterranean. The Lebanese Civil War that dragged on from 1975 until 1990 decimated the city. In the years since then, although the city has been rebuilt, it’s also become a home for Hezbollah and, therefore, a staging area for terrorism. That’s why, when a giant explosion rocked the city on Tuesday, numerous theories instantly appeared.

This footage gives you a good idea about the enormity of the explosion:

The blast is known to have wounded approximately 5,000 people. The current death toll is 135, but that number can be expected to rise as some of the wounded do not survive. Moreover, as the satellite photos show, the blast was so complete at Ground Zero that many people would, quite disturbingly, have been vaporized:

In addition, the blast is estimated to have left as many as 300,000 people homeless.

The story that the Lebanese government is sticking with is that the warehouse that exploded with such devastating effect housed ammonium nitrate – a fertilizer ingredient – that should have been removed long ago:

An undisclosed number of officials at the Port of Beirut are being placed under house arrest while authorities probe the deadly explosion in Lebanon.

The move was a decision made by the country’s parliament after it was determined that some 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate had been stored in the port, which was the epicenter of the blast, since it was taken off of a ship in 2013, according to the Associated Press. Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer product and component in some forms of explosives used in mining and construction.

Others agree that ammonium nitrate is consistent with the blast zone.

But was it really just negligence that caused this explosion? Donald Trump says otherwise. During a press conference, he stated, “It looks like a terrible attack.” When pressed, he doubled-down:

“Are you confident that this was an attack and not an accident?” a reporter later asked the president.

“Well it would seem like it based on the explosion. I met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that it was,” Trump said. “This was a, seems to be according to them, they would know better than I would, but they seem to think it was an attack, it was a bomb of some kind,” the president explained.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Hezbollah has a habit of stockpiling ammonium nitrate:

Hezbollah kept three metric tons of ammonium nitrate, the explosive thought to be behind the mega blast in Beirut this week, in a storehouse in London, until MI5 and the London Metropolitan Police found it in 2015.

The Lebanese terrorist group also stored hundreds of kilograms of ammonium nitrate in southern Germany, which were uncovered earlier this year.

Hezbollah’s Lebanese leader, Hassan Nasrallah, giddily explained years ago that they would blow up Israel using so much ammonium nitrate it would have the force of a nuclear bomb:

Jake Novak has an interesting thread positing that someone within the Iranian regime ratted it out and that an unknown entity is slowly disposing of Iranian weapons wherever they can be found. (Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed terrorist group.)

One extremely dubious report, based upon an unnamed Israeli source, claims that Israel caused the explosion but didn’t mean to cause so much damage:

A confidential highly-informed Israeli source has told me that Israel caused the massive explosion at the Beirut port earlier today which killed over 100 and injured thousands.  The bombing also virtually leveled the port itself and caused massive damage throughout the city.

Israel targeted a Hezbollah weapons depot at the port and planned to destroy it with an explosive device.  Tragically, Israeli intelligence did not perform due diligence on its target.  Thus they did not know (or if they did know, they didn’t care) that there were 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a next-door warehouse.  The explosion at the arms depot ignited the fertilizer, causing the catastrophe that resulted.

I strongly doubt the story’s veracity. It comes from a hard-left, pro-Iranian, pro-Palestinian, anti-Netanyahu site that hopes to undermine Benjamin Netanyahu’s premiership.

It’s highly unlikely that Israel would engage in such a major operation so carelessly. It’s never done so before, so this currently sounds like crude misinformation, not information. Both Israel and the United States are always scrupulously careful to avoid unnecessary civilian harm.

Despite what Trump said, my money is on this being an accident flowing from Beirut's giving a home to Hezbollah. And if it was not an accident, the attack almost certainly originated with a rogue actor other than Israel.

Image: Twitter screengrab

It’s hard to remember that Beirut was once called the Paris of the Mediterranean. The Lebanese Civil War that dragged on from 1975 until 1990 decimated the city. In the years since then, although the city has been rebuilt, it’s also become a home for Hezbollah and, therefore, a staging area for terrorism. That’s why, when a giant explosion rocked the city on Tuesday, numerous theories instantly appeared.

This footage gives you a good idea about the enormity of the explosion:

The blast is known to have wounded approximately 5,000 people. The current death toll is 135, but that number can be expected to rise as some of the wounded do not survive. Moreover, as the satellite photos show, the blast was so complete at Ground Zero that many people would, quite disturbingly, have been vaporized:

In addition, the blast is estimated to have left as many as 300,000 people homeless.

The story that the Lebanese government is sticking with is that the warehouse that exploded with such devastating effect housed ammonium nitrate – a fertilizer ingredient – that should have been removed long ago:

An undisclosed number of officials at the Port of Beirut are being placed under house arrest while authorities probe the deadly explosion in Lebanon.

The move was a decision made by the country’s parliament after it was determined that some 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate had been stored in the port, which was the epicenter of the blast, since it was taken off of a ship in 2013, according to the Associated Press. Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer product and component in some forms of explosives used in mining and construction.

Others agree that ammonium nitrate is consistent with the blast zone.

But was it really just negligence that caused this explosion? Donald Trump says otherwise. During a press conference, he stated, “It looks like a terrible attack.” When pressed, he doubled-down:

“Are you confident that this was an attack and not an accident?” a reporter later asked the president.

“Well it would seem like it based on the explosion. I met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that it was,” Trump said. “This was a, seems to be according to them, they would know better than I would, but they seem to think it was an attack, it was a bomb of some kind,” the president explained.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Hezbollah has a habit of stockpiling ammonium nitrate:

Hezbollah kept three metric tons of ammonium nitrate, the explosive thought to be behind the mega blast in Beirut this week, in a storehouse in London, until MI5 and the London Metropolitan Police found it in 2015.

The Lebanese terrorist group also stored hundreds of kilograms of ammonium nitrate in southern Germany, which were uncovered earlier this year.

Hezbollah’s Lebanese leader, Hassan Nasrallah, giddily explained years ago that they would blow up Israel using so much ammonium nitrate it would have the force of a nuclear bomb:

Jake Novak has an interesting thread positing that someone within the Iranian regime ratted it out and that an unknown entity is slowly disposing of Iranian weapons wherever they can be found. (Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed terrorist group.)

One extremely dubious report, based upon an unnamed Israeli source, claims that Israel caused the explosion but didn’t mean to cause so much damage:

A confidential highly-informed Israeli source has told me that Israel caused the massive explosion at the Beirut port earlier today which killed over 100 and injured thousands.  The bombing also virtually leveled the port itself and caused massive damage throughout the city.

Israel targeted a Hezbollah weapons depot at the port and planned to destroy it with an explosive device.  Tragically, Israeli intelligence did not perform due diligence on its target.  Thus they did not know (or if they did know, they didn’t care) that there were 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a next-door warehouse.  The explosion at the arms depot ignited the fertilizer, causing the catastrophe that resulted.

I strongly doubt the story’s veracity. It comes from a hard-left, pro-Iranian, pro-Palestinian, anti-Netanyahu site that hopes to undermine Benjamin Netanyahu’s premiership.

It’s highly unlikely that Israel would engage in such a major operation so carelessly. It’s never done so before, so this currently sounds like crude misinformation, not information. Both Israel and the United States are always scrupulously careful to avoid unnecessary civilian harm.

Despite what Trump said, my money is on this being an accident flowing from Beirut's giving a home to Hezbollah. And if it was not an accident, the attack almost certainly originated with a rogue actor other than Israel.

Image: Twitter screengrab