Several blasts likely triggered by an explosion at a Hezbollah weapons depot caused a large fire that injured at least five people in the southern Lebanese village of Shehabiyeha Friday morning. It was not clear what caused the blasts, but one official said it might have been triggered by an electrical short circuit that set off secret Hezbollah munitions. Shehabiyeh is located in Lebanon’s volatile southern border zone with Israel – a stronghold for the Hezbollah militant group.
While Hezbollah is banned from having weapons under a United Nations resolution that ended the 2006 war between the militant group and Israel, in December 2009, the Lebanese Parliament voted in support of a unity government that allowed Hezbollah to keep its weapons. Not surprisingly, a number of mysterious explosions in the past year have ripped through buildings suspected of housing Hezbollah arms caches.
Lebanese troops patrol Beirut after clashes broke out last week.
Although Hezbollah is currently the largest and most powerful armed militant group in Lebanon, dozens of private armies that grew out of the country’s 15-year civil war still flourish today, 20 years after the conflict ended. A testament to the danger such groups pose to Lebanon, last week, a so-called personal dispute between supporters of Hezbollah and a rival Sunni faction turned deadly when a four-hour gun battle erupted in the streets of Beirut.
The blast that occurred this morning will not be the last caused by a Hezbollah arms cache in Lebanon, and neither will last week’s street battle. However, these incidents once again prove that as long as Hezbollah remains armed, the militant group not only poses a threat to Israel but to Lebanon’s stability and safety as well.