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Photo: Screengrab via UN

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented what he claimed were aerial photos of a Hezbollah "missile depot" in the heart of Beirut during a prerecorded speech Tuesday to the UN General Assembly.

The other side: Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah quickly took to the organization’s TV station to respond to Netanyahu's speech, which he said was an effort to incite the Lebanese people against Hezbollah.

  • Nasrallah said Hezbollah's press office would take reporters from the local and international media to the site Netanyahu mentioned to prove it's not a missile facility.  

The backstory: Hezbollah has been under pressure in the wake of last month's port explosion in Beirut, both because it's a major player in Lebanon's dysfunctional politics and because it partially controlled the port where ammonium nitrate had been left unsecured (the Iran-linked group is not known to bear any direct responsibility for the disaster).

What he's saying: "The next explosion could be here," Netanyahu said, using a laser pointer to highlight a site he said was tucked into a residential neighborhood and next door to a gas company. He included photos of the site itself and provided its direct coordinates.

  • Netanyahu called on the residents of the area, Jnah, to pressure Hezbollah to shut down the alleged missile facility, which is near Beirut's international airport.
  • “I say to the people of Jnah, you’ve got to act now. You’ve got to protest this. Because if this thing explodes, it’s another tragedy. ... You should tell them, tear these depots down," Netanyahu said.
  • The big picture: This is a familiar tactic from Netanyahu, who has used previous addresses to international audiences to present what he describes as damning evidence of malign behavior from Iran and its associates.

The latest: Hezbollah's media chief, Mohammed Afif, invited reporters to see the warehouse Netanyahu mentioned in his speech, which he said was owned by a private Lebanese citizen.

  • The reporters posted pictures and videos showing an industrial workshop with welding machinery. The owner told the reporters his workshop was used for cutting steel.  

Go deeper

Nov 18, 2020 - World

Israel's plan to influence Biden on Iran

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Israel is drafting a strategy for engaging with the incoming Biden administration on Iran, two Israeli officials tell me.

What they're saying: “We don’t want to be left out again," Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told the Knesset foreign relations committee in a classified hearing last week. He said Israel had to avoid the mistakes that left it isolated as the Obama administration negotiated the 2015 Iran deal.

52 mins ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."