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Rafic Hariri Airport: Target of an unusual hacker attack

Photo: Hassan Ammar / dpa

On Sunday evening, an unusual situation arose in the Lebanese capital Beirut: According to local media, hackers attacked IT systems at Rafic Hariri International Airport and altered the content on screens at the terminals. Instead of departure and arrival times, travelers were suddenly shown messages against the Shiite Hezbollah.

The messages visible on the monitors were directed against Hezbollah, which is powerful in Lebanon and allied with the radical Islamic Palestinian organization Hamas, as well as directly against its leader. "Hassan Nasrallah, you will have no defenders left when Lebanon has gone to war," one read.

Since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip three months ago, Hezbollah has also been attacking Israel almost daily from southern Lebanon. The Israeli army responds to the attacks with intensified airstrikes in Lebanon and Syria. So far, the fighting has been limited to the border areas.

Since the killing of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in a suburb of Beirut last Tuesday, however, there has been growing international concern that after the first attack on the Lebanese capital since the beginning of the war, the war could spread to Lebanon.

Initially, no one claimed responsibility for the cyber attack, which also temporarily disrupted the baggage handling system. Security forces tried to keep operations at the airport running normally with a contingency plan. The authorities said they were investigating the incident.