The Threat of Hezbollah Missiles at the Beirut Airpot
Media reports from Lebanon allege that the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who headed Tehran’s nuclear program, has really shaken up the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah; with reports that Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has grown so afraid that Israel will target him next that he has now taken up residence in Iran for his own safety.
Against this backdrop, Lebanese people of all backgrounds are terrified of the danger of the massive weapons stockpiles that Hezbollah has stashed and refuses to remove from civilian neighborhoods across the country.
Lebanon was devastated this summer when a warehouse, storing large amounts of the chemical ammonium nitrate, exploded at the Beirut port. The blast caused horrific amounts of destruction, killing scores of people and destroying buildings in a large radius. This horrible tragedy, which left more than 200 Lebanese dead and thousands more wounded, was the result of a massive stockpiling of dangerous explosives in civilian centers.
The explosion so angered the Lebanese population that they launched days of violent protests in the streets, demanding an international investigation into what happened. Many pointed a finger at Nasrallah and Hezbollah as the likely culprits.
Tragically, it is clear that it’s only a matter of time before the next explosion goes off and large numbers of civilians are killed again. Hezbollah, it is widely known, stores its rockets, launchers, and weapons in schools, mosques, residential buildings, and hospitals. And Hezbollah utilizes the civilian population of Lebanon as human shields to protect its armaments.
Against this backdrop, the Tel Aviv-based Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center has sent warning letters to international airlines that service the Beirut airport and the insurance carriers that insure the planes, warning them that Hezbollah rockets being stockpiled at the facility could endanger the lives of passengers. The group is demanding that airlines halt all services to the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut.
Hezbollah has a real dilemma: its goal of raining missiles down on Israeli cities can only be accomplished by having many launchers available in many different locations. Hezbollah needs to keep its rockets at the airport or Israel will destroy them, and yet by keeping them warehoused there, they are endangering the lives of innocent Lebanese civilians who want them moved.
Everyone who is hopeful for the future of the Middle East recognizes that Iran and Hezbollah must be confronted and forced to abandon their criminal activities. This means removing the rockets and weapons from Lebanese civilian areas. We can only hope that the Shurat HaDin warning letters can push the airlines and insurance companies to act. If the rockets remain, Beirut’s airport is just the next Lebanese tragedy waiting to happen.
Ronn Torossian is a public relations executive.