Correspondent in Jerusalem
Beirut He relived images of the civil war that split the city for fifteen years for two hours. At least six people lost their lives and dozens were injured in the intense armed clashes that erupted in Tayune, full line of the front that in the eighties divided a Christian neighborhood from a Shiite Muslim one, and they extended to Cheyah and Ain al Remmaneh. The shooting began in the wake of a mobilization called by the Shiite movements of Hezbollah and Amal, who was heading to the Palace of Justice to protest against the judge Tarek Bitar.
More than a year after the brutal explosion that killed more than 200 people and devastated half the city, the investigation is stalled and Bitar’s attempts to advance have not pleased Shiite forces, accusing him of taking “selective” positions and «Politicized», in the words of Hasan Nasrala, general secretary of the Hezbollah militia party, the main force in a country where arms always speak when a decisive moment arrives.
Hezbollah and Amal denounced “direct shooting” by “snipers” at the participants in their “peaceful rally”. His followers, however, were well equipped and soon responded by opening fire with assault rifles, pistols and rocket launchers. The Lebanese Army confirmed that “the protesters were fired upon as they passed through Tayune” and ordered a strong deployment in the area to try to defuse the situation and “arrest those responsible for the shooting.”
The Minister of the Interior, Bassam Mawlawi, revealed that some of the deceased had received a bullet in the head, which suggests that the shots were the work of “snipers.” This is the moment of greatest armed tension in the Lebanese capital since 2008, when Hezbollah took its militants to the streets and took control of the capital in just 48 hours.
What will happen now with the investigation of the explosion in the port? On Monday Nasrala asked that Judge Bitar be relieved of his position and a day later the magistrate issued an arrest warrant against the deputy and former finance minister. Ali Hassan Khalil, Amal member and Hezbollah ally. The Shiite parties took to the streets in protest and suffered the attack in Tayune, which no group has claimed. As is usual in the long black history of Lebanon, the accusations are mutual and it will be difficult to clarify the origin. The same happens with the brutal explosion of the port that has put the ruling class in the trigger for the negligence of having 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored for seven years in such a place.
The Shiite media blamed Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces for the shooting at protesters, who defended the judge during the week and called on the Lebanese to oppose Hezbollah’s attempts to withdraw him from the case. The veteran Christian leader, one of the “lords of the civil war” who continues to lead their militia parties, did not respond to the accusations, but condemned the shooting against the protest and attributed them to “the amount of loose weapons in the country and are a threat to the population. In the midst of the sectarian fight, the country is mired in the worst economic crisis in its history and everyone who can pack their bags and emigrate.
“The war ended with an amnesty, an agreement that was our silence in exchange for the warlords taking over the government. We have been silent for 30 years in which they have destroyed our city. The silence is over, we must support Judge Bitar until the end, “wrote Beirut activist Carmen Geha on her Twitter account.
From Human Rights Watch (HRW), its researcher in Lebanon, Aya Majzoub, described what happened as “a show of force” by Hezbollah and theirs that gave the Lebanese “a false choice between having stability without justice or justice without stability.” . In the words of Majzoub collected by Al Yasira, “we are facing the latest in a series of attempts by Hezbollah and the ruling elite to undermine and block the investigation into the Beirut explosion.”