Did the Fire in Al-Amalia Threaten Hezbollah’s Missile Components?

In the first week of August, a fire broke out in an underground area beneath a clothing store on Airport Road and below Al-Amlieh Supermarket /commercial center. The location is in the western section of Harat Harikh, near Fantasy World, a popular amusement park known for its Ferris wheel, and close to the Beirut Golf Club. According to the official story, the garment store warehouse at the store caught fire.

Above: The location of the fire: Airport Road, Al-Fantazi Street, Al-Amalia Market building. On the right you can see the Ferris wheel which is inside the “Fantasy World” park.
Above: On the left – Airport Road. In the large yellow rectangle is the “Fantasy World” park complex and in the small yellow square is the location where the underground fire started.
Above: In the red square – the supermarket structure.

Many videos from the fire zone were shared on social media. In some of the footage, we identified members of Hezbollah’s civil defense squad functioning in the supermarket in addition to the fire and smoke pouring from underground. The Civil Defense Unit oversees emergency services like fire, search, and rescue. Rimon Khatar commands this unit. The unit is affiliated with Hezbollah’s Islamic Health Organization, whose medical personnel we also identified on the scene. The Executive Council of Hezbollah oversees the Islamic Health Organization and the Civil Defense Unit.

One of the videos shows Wafiq Safa, the head of Hezbollah’s coordination and liaison unit, and the head of the civil defense team, Rimon Khatar, speaking at the site in front of the media and the public.

Hezbollah’s coordination and liaison unit reports to the Executive Council. Safa is regarded as a “special missions man” for Hezbollah, particularly Nasrallah. He is formally in charge of interacting with various official bodies and cooperating with Hezbollah and Lebanon’s security services.

Above: Wafiq Safa

Why would a senior Hezbollah figure bother arriving at the site of the fire?

We released a special report in July 2020 that uncovered dozens of places connected to Hezbollah’s medium-range missile array in Beirut. These are missile launch sites as well as missile storage facilities. We found one of these sites in the compound of the Al-Amaliya commercial center’s buildings, where the fire broke out. The report refers to the “CC Site” as a storage depot for missile parts (33°50’55N 35°29’49E ). In the report, we pointed to the complex of residences where the site is located but not to a specific structure.

We believe the official story claims that the fire started in a garment warehouse near the shopping area. However, after several days of being unable to suppress it, the fire spread and may have begun to damage a key Hezbollah subterranean site (“CC site”) located beneath the commercial center – the supermarket.

Hezbollah maintains various military locations across Beirut, including headquarters, bunkers, weapons depots, weapons production sites, launching sites, logistics infrastructure, communications infrastructure, and more.

Because of the urban and congested character of the burning site, it is possible that to avoid attracting additional attention and to diminish the location of the sensitive site, Hezbollah did not publicly and demonstrably prohibit access to the site and traffic (as is typically the case). It is possible that Wafiq Safa arrived at the location to personally and closely monitor the fire incident to ensure it did not expose or harm the site.

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Tal Beeri

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