Following the disclosure of the arms cache in Beirut: a big storm in Lebanon

Photo credit: Freepik
The Arab networks are abuzz following the revelation of Hezbollah's huge weapons stockpile at Beirut's civil airport, where thousands of Lebanese pass through every day. Lebanon in response: "Deceptions and lies."

Since the publication in the British “Telegraph” newspaper earlier today (Sunday), which revealed that Hezbollah has a huge cache of weapons at the Rafik al-Hariri airport in Beirut, there has been a great uproar in the Arab networks. After years of Israel making similar claims, the Telegraph presented testimony from the inside of port workers, according to which the port is controlled by Hezbollah operatives, and Iranian missiles and weapons arrive there on flights and are stored there despite the real danger to civilians flying through it. Alongside the fear, the festivals and routine life continue in Beirut.

Al-Hariri Port is a civilian airport where thousands of Lebanese pass through every day, as it is the main gateway for Lebanese citizens to leave the country and return to it. While the Lebanese terrorist organization refuses to reach a compromise as long as the fighting in the Gaza Strip continues, the residents with the means, who prefer not to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, are fleeing Lebanon for fear of war.

The exposure increased the fear among the employees at the airport. One of them told The Telegraph: “This is very serious, huge mysterious boxes are arriving on direct flights from Iran, this is a sign that things are going to get worse. When they started arriving at the airport, my friends and I started to get scared, because we knew something strange was happening.”

The employee, who was described as a “whistleblower”, said that he feared that an attack on the airport or an explosion at the site could cause significant damage, and also raised fears of a possible explosion similar to the one that occurred at the port in southern Beirut in August 2020 and also damaged a large part of the city center. “Beirut will be cut off from the world, not to mention the number of casualties and damage,” he warned. “It’s only a matter of time before a disaster happens at the airport as well.” Hezbollah has previously been accused of storing weapons at the civilian airport, but the official stressed that the method had intensified since the outbreak of the war in October.
The anxiety of the Lebanese residents over the possibility of the ammunition at the airport exploding due to an accident, or as a result of an Israeli attack, is understandable. Official Lebanon, unsurprisingly, meanwhile denies the report, and the Lebanese Minister of Transport, Ali Hamia, claimed at a press conference that the information was wrong, and invited the media and the ambassadors to visit the airport tomorrow at 10:30.
According to him, “Beirut’s airport is constantly subject to Israeli disruptions. The Telegraph’s report is from unknown sources. The aviation union completely denied the published information. There is a lack of transparency in the newspaper’s handling of the report on the storage of weapons at the airport.” He added that he is holding consultations with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati about filing a lawsuit against the “Telegraph”, due to “the publication that harms Lebanon”.

The Association of Airlines in Lebanon claimed that the “Telegraph” published the words “without providing proof or evidence, but only deceptions and lies.” According to the organization’s statement, the media and those who report the things “and promote the lie” have full responsibility for the safety of the workers at the airport in Beirut, in all facilities. The message also stated: “We invite the Lebanese, Arab and foreign media to come to the Beirut airport with camera crews and check for themselves.”

In the Arab world there is no rush to be convinced by the Lebanese claims. The Saudi Al-Hadath channel opened a special channel that dealt with the exposure of the “Telegraph”, and the Lebanese journalist Ali Al-Amin claimed that “the things published are not unreasonable. Hezbollah used the airport in the past, which has a security significance for it.”

The Lebanese political writer, Fadi al-Ahmar, told al-Hadath that “Hezbollah turned the Rafik al-Hariri airport into the Qassem Soleimani airport. The Telegraph’s report confirms that Hezbollah used it to store weapons. There is no trust in the supervision of international committees – and the evidence What is happening with the Iranian nuke.” He even added in relation to the fighting waged by the terrorist organization with Israel: “Every Lebanese sympathizes with Gaza, but Hezbollah’s destructive method against Lebanon is unacceptable.”

The Syrian opposition member Asad Oud al-Zaabi told the Saudi channel: “Iranian militias are taking advantage of civilian facilities, including the airports in Beirut and Damascus.” According to him, Hezbollah can “fight with Israel”, but it does not have the tools to really defeat it.

The Alma Institute for Israel’s Security Challenges in the North has been claiming for a long time that Hezbollah is using the airport. According to the institute, Hezbollah exploits Lebanon for its needs, and the terrorist organization’s involvement also extends to Lebanon’s border crossings – including the Beirut airport. “There are representatives of Hezbollah on the navy’s radars or on the airport’s radars,” said Tal Bari, head of the tomorrow department of the Alma Centers. “It happens physically, or the officers and soldiers who work for them are activated remotely.”

Brigadier General Assaf Orion, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), also said that Hezbollah uses the Lebanese army quite a bit, especially at the border crossings. “A few years ago, the army officer in charge of the airport was replaced and Hezbollah had something to say about The appointment,” said Orion and added: “The seaport is also a reasonable place for the passage of Hezbollah’s equipment and weapons, and of course the border crossings from Syria – these are places that Hezbollah controls. In fact, the Lebanese army covers for Hezbollah in many cases.”

Recently, residents of Lebanon told the AFP news agency about the difficult feelings in the country in the shadow of the growing tensions with Israel. “What we see on the street is different from what we hear in the media,” a resident of Beirut’s Mar Michael neighborhood tells Eli. “What the foreign press reports indicates that Lebanon is in a state of war.”

That Christian Mar Michael neighborhood is known for its colorful cafes and bars. “This is Lebanon and this is our history. Nothing changes, we survived the July war,” said Eli, referring to the Second Lebanon War from 2006. According to him, “During all the past crises, people continued to stay up late, whether it was due to Corona or whether it was It was during the explosion in the port of Beirut.” The explosion, which occurred in the summer of 2020, accelerated the collapse of the economy that had been deepening since 2019.

According to the UN, 95,000 Lebanese have been displaced from the border area since the beginning of the war in October. This, it is written, does not prevent other Lebanese from continuing their lives as usual. “We live day by day. Of course people are afraid, but we trust in God,” said Mira, who lives in Lebanon, and even emphasized that she has no intention of leaving Lebanon in case war breaks out.

Similar to Israel, major festivals that take place every summer have been canceled in Lebanon due to the situation, but some of them are still held as usual.

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