(CNSNews.com) – Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations has called on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to condemn a veiled threat by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah – a member of Lebanon’s caretaker government – to kill tens of thousands of Israelis by firing missiles at a toxic gas storage tank in Israel’s third-largest city.
In a letter to Ban, Ambassador Danny Danon urged him to condemn publicly “this threat of the mass murder of innocents,” adding that the gravity of the threat was magnified by Hezbollah’s ongoing militarization of southern Lebanon.
Israeli and U.S. security officials say Iran and Syria have helped Hezbollah to rebuild a stockpile of up to 100,000 rockets since its 33-day war against Israel in 2006.
In a speech on Tuesday the Shi’ite group’s leader, Hasan Nasrallah, noted that an Israeli expert has warned that a leak of poisonous gas from an ammonia tank in the port of Haifa could be extremely hazardous to large numbers of residents.
“The people of Haifa fear a lethal attack on the containers – there are huge containers there – which store ammonia,” he said in the speech, as reported by Hezbollah’s official Al-Ahed newspaper and television station Al-Manar, and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
“In the 2006 war we refrained from attacking those containers,” he said. “They store there over 15,000 tons – let me repeat, tons – of this gas, which might cause the deaths of tens of thousands of people.”
Recalling that the Israeli expert had likened the risk to that of a nuclear bomb, Nasrallah said, “In other words, Lebanon has a nuclear bomb. This is no exaggeration, absolutely not.”
Then he laughed, “We don’t really have a nuclear bomb. It’s a nuclear bomb in a sense that several missiles launched from here, together with the ammonia containers in Haifa, will lead to the same impact as a nuclear bomb.”
Nasrallah said the Israeli expert predicted that “if a few missiles land on those containers, in an area where 800,000 people live, tens of thousands of people will be killed.”
The terrorist leader characterized the missile threat both as a deterrent to prevent another war, and as a means to ensure that Hezbollah wins that war if one does take place.
Nasrallah said it would take Israel “days” to destroy the southern suburbs of Beirut – Hezbollah’s stronghold – but that Hezbollah could, with just a few rockets, “target gas containers in Haifa and kill tens of thousands of settlers.”
“Do not try us,” Al-Ahed quoted him as saying in the speech, delivered by video link to supporters from an unknown location, as is his habit.
During the 2006 war Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into Israeli territory, some reaching as far as Hadera, around 50 miles south of the border – and 30 miles beyond Haifa.
The war ended with a U.N.-brokered ceasefire with a Security Council resolution, 1701, reinforcing earlier demands that “all armed groups in Lebanon” disarm. Hezbollah has not done so, on the contrary boasting that it is expanding its arsenal in readiness for the next war.
In his letter to Ban – a copy of which was made available by the Israeli mission to the U.N. – Danon said Hezbollah’s military buildup was a flagrant violation of UNSC resolution 1701.
“This is a terror organization which has repeatedly targeted Israeli civilians from within the Lebanese civilian population – a double war crime.”
“I call on you to publicly condemn this dangerous and aggressive statement and to demand that the government of Lebanon live up to its commitments and fully implement Security Council resolution 1701.”
Danon also wrote that the threat “comes from the head of an Iranian proxy terror organization which is currently assisting the Assad regime to slaughter hundreds of thousands in Syria.”
Israel’s government in 2013 agreed to shut the Haifa ammonia tank, stop importing the gas, and establish an ammonia plant instead in the sparsely-populated Negev region of southern Israel. The tender process is underway.
“The ammonia tank is an environmental and security risk,” Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay said in response to Nasrallah’s threats. “We are working to remove the dangerous tank from Haifa, through the establishment of an ammonia production plant in the south.”