Mystery surrounds Hezbollah chief's health as rumors swirl

Days after Hassan Nasrallah appeared weak, with persistent cough in televised speech, reports from Lebanon include claims he is unconscious and hospitalized in secret medical facility; Iran-backed group insists that its leader is healthy
Smadar Peri|
After a recent appearance in which he appeared weak and with a persistent cough, rumors have been circulating in recent days that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is seriously ill in a secret medical facility in Lebanon.
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  • According to a mass of rumors posted in Arabic on social media, Nasrallah lost consciousness two days ago and is currently hospitalized.
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    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was seen coughing repeatedly during his speech last week
    Some rumors cite "senior officials in Lebanon" while others quote sources in Israel that allegedly claim the Hezbollah leader has coronavirus.
    A pale-looking Nasrallah coughed his way through his speech last Tuesday to mark the 21st anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon, prompting his son Jawad to tweet that his father was merely suffering from allergies.
    Another of Nasrallah's sons, Fadi, has also used social media to dismiss the about his father's health.
    "My father has a cough that will pass soon," Fadi tweeted, while Hezbollah's second in command Naim Qassem denounced " malicious rumors" and insisted that "Nasrallah is healthy."
    Hassan Nasrallah coughs repeatedly during his speech last week
    The ambiguity over the health of the head of the Iranian-backed group was only increased by an item published in Monday's edition of popular Lebanese daily Al-Nahar.
    The paper quoted the tweets about the mystery surrounding Nasrallah's condition, as well as denials by senior Hezbollah figures that he was sick. But the report also included unsubstantiated quotes from senior doctors in Beirut that they had treated Nasrallah in recent days and that he was unconscious.
    The text appears with two red lines running across it, apparently indicating that it was to be deleted - although it is clearly visible.
    The distribution of bread and water by Hezbollah activists to passers-by in Beirut and southern Lebanon in recent days has also been subject to interpretation in Lebanon.
    Some claimed that passers-by who were given bread were asked to pray for Nasrallah's health, while Hezbollah said that it was in honor of "the anniversary of the liberation of southern Lebanon from the grip of the Zionist occupier."
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