Israel Offers to Help Lebanon

Israel has offered the Lebanese government medical humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of the huge explosion that devastated a large area of Beirut yesterday, despite considering Lebanon to be an ‘enemy state’. The assistance would be provided through international intermediaries.

Aftermath of massive explosion in BeirutAftermath of massive explosion in Beirut (screenshot from i24 News)

Having fought several wars with its neighbour since 1948, direct assistance is impractical – especially given the current tensions with terrorist organisation Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon and presently a member of the country’s coalition government.

The massive explosion on Tuesday sent shockwaves across Lebanon and was even felt as far away as Cyprus. It has caused widespread damage as far as the outskirts of Beirut, levelling a large area of the port, damaging a much wider area, shattering windows and bringing down balconies in residential buildings.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun says a two-week state of emergency should be declared, with the death toll currently standing at 100 people and 4,000 others injured. The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers dig through the rubble searching for survivors.

The explosion occurred after a fire had been burning for some while in one of the port buildings. The cause is not completely clear, but officials say that it was likely due to 2,750 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate that had been stored at the port for as long as six years.

The damage is so widespread that as many as 250,000 people may now be homeless – a disastrous blow when many Lebanese have recently lost their jobs and seen their savings disappear in a currency crisis that has gripped the country in recent months.

There are also concerns over how Lebanon will continue to import vital goods now that its main port is devastated. The port’s major grain silos were torn open by the blast, dumping their contents into the surrounding debris.

It is estimated that Lebanon imports 80 percent of its wheat supply and some say that as much as 85 percent of the country’s grain was stored in those silos. The matter of food security could become critical, with the tiny country hosting more than 1 million Syrian refugees.