An arms depot controlled by Hezbollah exploded in Ain Qana, a village in Lebanon south of Beirut. Sources say that the explosion was caused by ‘technical errors,’ but the facility was barred from reporters who attempted to investigate.
There were no confirmed injuries or fatalities from the explosion, which comes only seven weeks after the tremendous explosion of Beirut that shook the country. The Lebanese Army responded immediately to the explosion and unconfirmed reports of several injured. They also launched an investigation into the explosion, which state media reported coincided with multiple Israeli flights over the region. Israel has not responded to the inquiry (BBC).
Ain Qana is a southern village in Lebanon that is a stronghold for Hezbollah. Hezbollah has a strong presence in areas with Shiite majorities, such as southern Lebanon, Beirut, and the eastern Bekaa Valley (Council on Foreign Relations). Local residents stated that the blast struck a house, and it is unclear if that house was the arms depot or if a different building was the site of the explosion (Arab News).
This building belonged to a de-mining association that is associated with Hezbollah (Al Jazeera). The building and what was inside is now considered to be completely destroyed. The building stored weapons and ammunition, and its destruction could be harmful to the Shiite Islamist group.
Hezbollah is a movement that arose from the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. The war was a response to the varying attitudes of Lebanese officials regarding the presence of Palestinians in Lebanon. As more Palestinians came to Lebanon, the number of Sunni Muslims rose and caused discontent among Shiite Muslims.
Hezbollah, which means “The Party of God,” now has a presence in the Lebanese government with 13 of the 128 seats of parliament (CFR). It is well-known that they are backed by Iran, and the United States has labelled them as a terrorist organization since 1997 (U.S. Department of State). The E.U. has taken a less aggressive stance and designated only the military wing of the organization a terrorist group, not the political wing (Reuters). This is an attempt to ease tensions with Lebanon since the organization acts within the government.
The Shiite organization has been accused of involvement in many attacks targeting Jewish and Israeli sites in Beirut, Syria, Argentina, and Bulgaria. Hezbollah has denied any responsibility for these attacks. Official reports state that the groups responsible have ties to Hezbollah.
The goal of the organization is to oppose Western and Israeli influence and encourage the construction of an “Iran-inspired regime” (CFR). Recently, the group has voiced its promise to retaliate against the United States for the assassination of the Commander Soleimani.
However, with the chaos of the Lebanese government since the Beirut explosion that killed hundreds, injured thousands, and damaged the infrastructure of the city, it is unclear what the future of Hezbollah’s influence will look like. The Lebanese cabinet stepped down amid frustrations over mismanagement and now the system is paralyzed in inaction. The various blocs of the government have not been able to come to an agreement on where to go from here.
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