Right-wing British outlet faces backlash over claims that Beirut airport is used by Hezbollah

The Telegraph, a right-wing British paper, published a piece alleging that Hezbollah has been storing Iranian arms at the Beirut airport

June 24, 2024 by Abdul Rahman
Beirut airport.

The Lebanese government and airport authorities strongly rejected a report published on Sunday June 23 by the British right-wing daily, the Telegraph, which accused Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah of storing deadly weapons at the Beirut airport. The Lebanese government also announced that it would file a lawsuit against the newspaper for publishing the story without any credible source or evidence.

The British daily reported on Sunday that Hezbollah is using Beirut’s Rafik Hariri airport to store large amounts of Iranian weapons. It claimed that the weapons include ballistic missiles, laser guided and anti-tank missiles and RDX explosives among others.

Within hours of its publication, however, Telegraph edited the report removing the comments by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirming its claims about the airport. The ITAT later announced that it has not and will not comment on the situation report at Beirut airport and it was falsely quoted by the Telegraph.

Lebanon’s Minister of Public Works and Transport Ali Hamieh said in a press conference on Sunday that, instead of relying on “anonymous sources” Telegraph should have checked with “the British Department of Transport, which conducted a field visit of the airport” in January.

A statement issued by the Air Transport Union in Lebanon claimed the report is completely unfounded and “mere illusions and lies aimed at endangering Beirut airport and its civilian workers, as well as travelers to and from it, all of whom are civilians.”

The statement called all the media organizations to come and verify the falsehood of the report. It claimed that “we consider what is being promoted by suspicious media outlets as incitement to kill us.”

The union says it will hold the Telegraph and all “those who report on it and spread its falsehood” responsible for the safety of all those who are working at the airport, Al-Mayadeen reported.

On Monday, several foreign journalists and ambassadors paid a visit to Beirut airport to debunk the claims made by Telegraph, IRNA reported.

Every time the media lies

Many analysts have pointed out that the Telegraph report is another example of a western outlet publishing unverified facts to create a narrative that supports and justifies the US-Israeli war drive against Palestinians and regional groups opposing Israel’s genocide.

Read more: Condemn first, ask questions never? Israeli propaganda and the crimes the West chooses to believe

The Telegraph report comes amid increased tensions between Israel and Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah and threats from Israeli officials about escalating attacks against Lebanon. Some have claimed such reports provide Israel legitimacy to launch attacks.

Mustafa Barghouti, leader of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) wrote on X that “The Israeli government including Israeli embassies and the pro-Israeli media started a media campaign to justify an Israeli war on Lebanon. The Pro-Israeli Telegraph is complicit by publishing lies about the Beirut airport.”

Israel has been threatening to wage a full fledged war against Lebanon and its Foreign Minister Israel Katz has been boasting about the destruction of Hezbollah. In response, the group’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel against invading Lebanon, threatening to expand its attacks to all corners of the territory.

Since October 8, Hezbollah has carried out attacks on Israeli military installations and towns in the north, following its announcement of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. It has on several occasions declared that the attacks will not end until the Israeli war in Gaza ends which has killed over 37,000 Palestinians so far.

Israel has been launching air strikes and artillery attacks in Southern Lebanon ever since the beginning of the war against Palestinians in Gaza. It has killed close to 400 Lebanese in the last nine months of the war and displaced thousands.

Last week, US presidential envoy Amos Hochstein visited Lebanon in another attempt to de-escalate the situation and protect Israel fighting on two different fronts at the same time, but has so far not succeeded.