Hezbollah’s television and news network Al Manar has confirmed that on Friday the Lebanese paramilitary group’s “War Media” accounts on Twitter and Facebook were closed without notice. Hezbollah is now accusing the social media giants of taking part in an American “anti-media campaign” against the group which has already long been designated a terror organization by the US government.
Al-Manar English explains:
In a post on the Telegram messaging application, Hezbollah’s Central War Media accused the US-based websites of running an anti-media campaign against the Lebanese resistance movement.
Facebook and Twitter closed the accounts as part of their efforts to harm the resistance since the social media accounts of the Central War Media play a major role in Hezbollah’s activities, according to the post on Telegram.
Neither Facebook nor Twitter have yet to give official comment.
Though it’s not the first time Hezbollah’s Facebook page has been blocked (it occurred in 2017, but later went active again), the move by Facebook and Twitter could be in relation to the current Syrian Army and allied forces major offensive in Syria’s southwest, where a major campaign is underway to liberate Daraa.
— Almanarnews English (@AlmanarEnglish) June 23, 2018
Both the US and Israel have issued repeat warnings against Iran-backed or Hezbollah forces being present in the south and near the Israeli occupied Golan; however, some sources on the ground have reported that Damascus is ignoring those warnings, allowing Hezbollah fighters to enter the battle. Pro-rebel social media accounts have also in recent days uploaded what they claim is proof of Hezbollah’s presence in Daraa and Quneitra governates.
But as Newsweek suggests the social media shutdown could be related to a newly published Hezbollah video showing the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers from along the Israel-Lebanon border over a decade ago, which precipitated 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War:
The alleged shutdown comes a day after a Hezbollah social media account published a new video showing the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in 2006, according to Israeli news outlet Ynet News. The Twitter page which published the video is still active, casting doubt over whether the clip played a direct part in the clampdown of the group’s social media presence.
Controversial footage of the kidnapping was first published in 2012 on the Hezbollah affiliated news channel Al Mayadeen and aired on stations throughout the region, including in Israeli media where it was analyzed on news panels. That particular footage was filmed from a distance.
However, the newly released video which may have resulted in Facebook taking action shows a close-up angle of the kidnapping, focusing in on the captured soldiers lying prone just before their vehicle explodes. Hezbollah militants are seen dressed up as IDF soldiers as they ambush the Israeli Humvee and plant explosives.
Hezbollah immediately announced on Friday that backup pages and accounts have been established, which the group encouraged followers to utilize.
American military analysts and advisers have in the past frequently complained that a US-designated terror group has long been allowed broad usage of US-based social media platforms.
In 2006 a New York man was arrested and charged for providing US residents with access to Hezbollah’s satellite channel, al-Manar. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison for material support of a terrorist organization.