ISF, Army Put End to Construction Violations around Airport Fence
Internal Security Forces and army troops on Friday managed to put an end to construction violations around the Beirut airport which, according to Lebanese ministers, had posed a threat to the safety of civil aviation.
“An Internal Security Forces unit, backed up by army troops, has been carrying out a mission since today morning, which has led to curbing construction violations near the fence of the Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport, after clashes with the violators,” state-run National News Agency reported.
“Work is underway to demolish and remove these violations in the framework of preserving the safety of civil aviation and passengers and the reputations of Lebanon and its airport,” NNA added.
Caretaker Interior Minister Ziad Baroud was directly in charge of the mission, the news agency reported.
“A group of youths and women pelted the ISF members with stones while they were demolishing buildings built next to the airport’s fence in a manner that affects the control tower’s visibility,” NNA reported later Friday.
It identified three ISF officers wounded in the clashes as Lt. Col. Joseph al-Naddaf, Captain Suleiman Zaineddine and Second Lieutenant Nabil Oueidat. They were rushed to Al-Maqassed Hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, another group of youths and women blocked the nearby al-Ouzai highway with rocks and burning tires to protest the crackdown.
An Nahar newspaper reported on Wednesday that violators had built illegally on state property near the new 16th seaside tarmac of the airport and the old number 17 runway, warning that such a move could go all the way towards putting the facility on the international blacklist.
Caretaker Public Works and Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi confirmed to An Nahar that illegal construction was flourishing despite the authorities’ recent crackdown.
Caretaker minister Baroud also warned against "the disastrous results of this encroachment on aviation safety." He told An Nahar that the illegal buildings should be "immediately torn down."
"Let those who covered up or turned a blind eye to them take responsibility for what Aridi is warning of," Baroud said.
He blamed years of lax security measures for the boom in illegal construction in the past weeks. Baroud also said that violators are taking advantage of the absence of a government and the political vacuum to carry out more illegal construction work.