Israeli official says Lebanon blast a 'gift from God'
Moshe Feiglin made the insensitive comment less than 24 hours after the devastating explosion rocked Beirut, decimating entire neighbourhoods across the capital.
“Today is Tu B’Av, a day of joy, and a true and huge thank you to G-d and all the geniuses and heroes really (!) who organised for us this wonderful celebration in honor of the day of love,” Feiglin said in a Facebook post.
"Marking Tu B'Av holiday, we've got a fantastic fireworks show from Beirut's port," he said.
“You don’t really believe that this was some messy fuel warehouse, yeah? Do you understand that this hell was supposed to fall on us as a rain of missiles?! I have some experience with explosives. The largest explosion I took part in was 2.5 tons of TNT,” he claimed.
“What we saw yesterday at the Port of Beirut was much bigger. The destructive effect (without the radiation) was like a nuclear bomb,” the former MK added.
Separately, the Israeli official also shared his hopes that Israel was behind the blast and claimed he was allowed to “rejoice” over the incident.
“If it was us, and I hope it was us, then we should be proud of it, and with that we will create a balance of terror. By avoiding saying it’s us – we are putting ourselves on the dark side of morality,” he said on a local radio station.
“We are all allowed to rejoice that it exploded in the port of Beirut and not in Tel Aviv,” he added.
Feiglin's remarks prompted swift outrage on social media, with many criticising him for his "disgusting" comments while others called for swift action against the politician.
The comments came as Beirut struggled to respond to the blast that claimed the lives of more than 135 people and cost billions in damages.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab has called on "friendly countries" to support a nation already reeling from its worst economic crisis in decades as well as a coronavirus outbreak that has infected over 5,000 people and killed 68.
In an unusual move, neighbouring Israel offered humanitarian aid - to a country with which it is still technically at war - via international intermediaries.
Meanwhile, in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, Lebanon's flag was projected onto the city hall on Wednesday evening.
The blast on Tuesday, apparently triggered by a fire igniting 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser left unsecured in a warehouse of Beirut port, was heard as far as Cyprus, some 150 miles (240 kilometres) away.
It struck the Lebanese capital like an earthquake, with dozens still missing on Wednesday, thousands of people left destitute and thousands more cramming into overwhelmed hospitals for treatment.
An initial explosion and fire at the port had sent many people to balconies and rooftops where they were filming when the fertiliser exploded, sending out a massive shockwave across the city.
In an instant, the blast left destruction likened to that caused by the country's 1975-1990 civil war, levelling buildings several hundred metres (yards) away.
Read also: Beirut Explosion: Be angry, not just sad, for Lebanon
City mayor Abboud said the devastation may have left 300,000 people temporarily homeless, adding to the cash-strapped country's economic misery with an estimated $3 billion in damages.
"Even in the worst years of the civil war, we didn't see so much damage over such a large area," said analyst Kamal Tarabey.