Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon has asked U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to condemn threats made by Hizbullah terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah to blow up an ammonia storage facility in Haifa. Hizbullah’s “dangerous military buildup, and its leaders’ murderous declarations, require a clear condemnation,” Danon wrote in a letter to Ban, according to Israel Radio. “When the leader of a terror organization publicly threatens the citizens of another country, silence is not an option.”
On Tuesday, the Hizbullah head said that the terror group had the capability to fire missiles at Israel that would directly target the ammonia storage site in Haifa Bay, long the bane of residents. “It would have the same effect as an atomic bomb, according to the Israelis themselves,” Nasrallah told supporters in a speech. “They have 15,000 tons of ammonia there; if one of our missiles would hit that site it would mean the death of tens of thousands – just like with a nuclear weapon.”
Speaking in the Knesset, Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said Wednesday that Israel had already decided to move the facility to a less densely-populated area of the Negev. “We have been working on this for a while, even before the babblings of Nasrallah,” he said. “This is not a new issue for us.”
Environment Minister Avi Gabay also said that the government had already issued a tender for the establishment of an ammonia facility in southern Israel, and closing down the Haifa facility. Speaking on Israel Radio Wednesday, he said that the country “does not have to conduct itself according to the threats of Nasrallah, but we are happy that he raised consciousness about this issue. We will continue to move forward with our plan to move the facility.”
In his letter, Danon also stressed the growing involvement of Hizbullah in Syria’s civil war, and its increased military activity in south Lebanon. Hizbullah, he wrote, was constantly violating the U.N. Security Council resolutions securing Israel’s border with Lebanon. “I call on you to condemn the dangerous and violent declarations of the Hizbullah head, and to demand that the Lebanese government fulfill its commitments under Security Council Resolution 1701.”
The ammonia storage facility in Haifa Bay is operated by Haifa Chemicals. In 2013, the Environment Ministry approved a plan to move it to a less-populated area of the Negev, because of fears that a leak or other incident could endanger the health and lives of the 800,000 residents of the region. The matter has been a cause celebré for environmental groups for decades, who have organized many petitions, protests and marches over the years to move the facility.