Israel was “clearly” responsible for the explosion that shattered Beirut on August 4, killing more than 170 people, wounding thousands and destroying swaths of the city, Lebanese former interior minister Nohad Machnouk told a press conference Wednesday.
“This operation in Beirut was carried out by Israel in a clear and explicit manner,” Machnouk said, adding: “It is clear we are looking at a crime against humanity, and therefore no one dares to claim responsibility for it.”
Israel denied responsibility almost immediately after the blasts, via unnamed officials.
Machnouk, who was appointed interior minister in 2014 and again in 2016, is the first senior Lebanese politician to point the finger at Israel. He belongs to the Future Movement, which opposes Hezbollah.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and his ally Lebanese President Michel Aoun have raised the possibility of “sabotage” but notably have not named Israel as a suspect, despite weeks of spiking confrontations along the border and in Syria, and a recent spate of mysterious explosions in Iran.