The Jerusalem Post

Gantz sends official aid offer via UNIFIL

- • By ANNA AHRONHEIM and TZVI JOFFRE contribute­d this

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has sent a proposal for humanitari­an aid to Lebanon through UNIFIL, his ministry announced on Tuesday.

The move comes after Gantz has repeated several times in recent weeks that Israel is willing to offer assistance to its northeaste­rn neighbor, which is suffering from a worsening economic crisis, with the World Bank calling it one of the world’s worst financial crises since the 1850s.

Violence and protests have been breaking out around the country as basic services collapse.

According to an assessment released by UNICEF on Monday, 77% of Lebanese households don’t have enough money to buy food. The country’s medicine importers have warned they have run out of hundreds of essential drugs. Electricit­y outages and gas shortages are commonplac­e and the Lebanese Armed Forces announced it is offering tourists helicopter rides for $150 to make money.

Gantz tweeted on Sunday: “As an Israeli, as a Jew and as a human being, my heart aches seeing the images of people going hungry on the streets of Lebanon. Israel has offered assistance to Lebanon in the past, and even today we are ready to act and to encourage other countries to extend a helping hand to Lebanon so that it will once again flourish and emerge from its state of crisis.”

In a speech on Sunday marking the opening of Israel’s first monument to the Southern Lebanon Army, which fought alongside the IDF during Israel’s presence in southern Lebanon from 1982 to 2000, Gantz offered assistance.

“Israel has offered to help Lebanon in the past, and today as well, we are prepared to work to help it grow and get out of this crisis,” he said.

On Tuesday, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the country is a few days away from a “social explosion,” and called on the internatio­nal community to save it.

Diab, in a speech after a meeting with several ambassador­s and representa­tives of diplomatic missions in Beirut, also said his government could not restart talks with the Internatio­nal Monetary Fund because only a new cabinet could do that.

“This government does not have the right to resume negotiatio­ns with the IMF to implement the recovery plan set by the cabinet, for this entails obligation­s on the next government that it may not endorse,” he said.

Lebanon has not responded to Gantz’s offers or the proposal sent to UNIFIL, but due to the long-standing enmity between the two sides, Beirut is expected to refuse the help.

After a huge explosion devastated Beirut last August, killing dozens and injuring thousands, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved humanitari­an and medical assistance to Lebanon instructin­g the National Security Council to contact former UN special envoy for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov to find out how Israel could help.

Gantz and other Israeli officials reiterated Jerusalem’s offer for aid at the time, with hospitals in Haifa and the North saying they were ready to provide assistance, but Lebanon refused.


 ?? (Aziz Taher/Reuters) ?? DRIVERS WAIT in line to enter a gas station in Jiyeh, Lebanon, last week.
(Aziz Taher/Reuters) DRIVERS WAIT in line to enter a gas station in Jiyeh, Lebanon, last week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel