Damaged grain silos at Beirut's harbor on August 5, 2020, one day after a powerful explosion tore through Lebanon's capital (AFP / STR)

Tweets from Israeli PM’s account referred to Syria strikes, not Beirut blast

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Social media posts claim tweets from the Israeli prime minister’s official Twitter account indicate the country was responsible for a massive explosion that devastated Beirut. But the tweets -- which were sent well before the blast in Lebanon -- actually referred to strikes in Syria the day before.

“#Israel's PM #Netanyahu just admitted the bombing of #Beirut was #IDF and an act of terror by the State of Israel,” says an August 4, 2020 Facebook post, which includes an image of tweets from @IsraeliPM.

One tweet quotes Benjamin Netanyahu as saying: “We hit a cell and now we hit the dispatchers. We will do what is necessary in order to defend ourselves. I suggest to all of them, including Hezbollah, to consider this.”

“These are not vain words; they have the weight of the State of Israel and the IDF behind them and this should be taken seriously,” the premier said, according to the other tweet.

A screenshot of a Facebook post taken on August 5, 2020

Similar claims also appeared on Facebook here and here, Instagram here and here, and Twitter here and here.

Other claims using video footage of Netanyahu circulated in Arabic on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, and were debunked by AFP Fact Check here.

The August 4 blast at Beirut’s port -- which appears to have been caused by a fire igniting 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate left unsecured in a warehouse -- killed more than 100 people and left thousands wounded.

Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war, and tensions with the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah have recently spiked.

However, the tweets quoting Netanyahu -- which were sent hours before the Beirut explosion -- were not referring to Lebanon, but strikes in southern Syria on August 3. The Israeli military said they were in retaliation for an attempt to lay explosives in the Golan Heights, which it has occupied since 1967.

AFP's fact-checking team in the Middle East contributed to this article.