Old clip of busy Lebanon airport wrongly linked to escalating tensions between Israel and Hezbollah


As rising tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah fuel fears of a full-fledged war, an old video of a busy airport has emerged, falsely claiming to show people fleeing Lebanon in June 2024. The claims are “not true”, the country’s civil aviation authority told AFP. The video has been circulating since at least September 2023 amid reports of congestion at the capital Beirut’s airport due to holiday travel.

“The Lebanese people are fleeing Lebanon — a new war is coming,” read a thai language Facebook post on June 24, 2024.

It included a 14-second video showing the crowd at an airport. The Arabic text of the video overlay said it was filmed at Beirut airport.

<span>Screenshot of the fake Facebook post, taken on July 3, 2024</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/UIAA_IC0YiOF3c6BfStbww–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTEwOTY-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/0073dafd56be3ca49569fe6cf3befdf3″/><span><knop klasse=

Screenshot of the fake Facebook post, taken on July 3, 2024

The report came as Hezbollah was exchanging messages almost daily cross-border fire with the Israeli army since Palestinian ally Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7, leading to the war in Gaza.

A recent increase in belligerent rhetoric on both sides has raised fears of a full-scale war between the region’s most powerful army and Hezbollah, a highly influential paramilitary group.

The video was also shared with similar false claims in other Thai posts on social media and those written English, Arabic, Hindi, Korean And Indonesian.

But Fadi El-Hassan, the director general of Lebanon’s civil aviation agency, denied the rumours of unusual flights from airports in the country.

The reports circulating were “not true,” he told AFP on June 24, 2024.

AFP journalists in Beirut also spoke to several travelers who said the number of departing planes after the holidays was busy again, as usual, but not unusual.

El-Hassan added that incoming traffic to the country this month was even higher than the same period last year.

Misrepresented clip

Furthermore, a reverse image search of a key frame from the circulating video revealed that it predates the war in Gaza and the subsequent escalation of tensions between Israel and Hezbollah.

Earlier there was an identical video published by local media organization Lebanon 24 on social media site X on September 2, 2023 (archived link).

The Arab subtitles the message can be translated as follows: “Video: Crowds at the departure line of Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport.”

Below is a screenshot of the comparison between the fake news (left) and the video published by Lebanon 24 (right):

<span>Screenshot comparison between the fake post (left) and the video published by Lebanon 24 (right)</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/9lw.7kZZN6aldQvKA5Yomw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTYwMg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/fa749183c90d50e84030865af2ceb90a”/><span><knop klasse=

Screenshot comparison between the fake post (left) and the video published by Lebanon 24 (right)

Google keyword searches yielded media reports from that time here And here which indicated that Beirut airport was packed with travelers joining the Arbaeen pilgrimage to the holy Iraqi city of Karbala (archived links) here And here).

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