FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Syrian War Hits Beirut

by FRANKLIN LAMB

Dahiyeh, Beirut.

This observer’s neighbors seemed to believe, especially over the past year, as most of us did, that the war in Syria would, in one form or another, spill into our neighborhood, Dahiyeh, the Hezbollah stronghold in south Beirut near the Shatila and Burj el Barajeh Palestinian refugee camps.

And now it has with a vengeance.

As this observer left his flat this morning and walked toward his motorbike on Abbas Mousawi street en route to Shatila Palestinian Camp for a 10:30 a.m.  appointment, at precisely 10:15 a.m. there was a tremendously loud  blast. It seemed to shake our massive 12 story apartment building which had been rebuilt by the WAAD (“promise”) Hezbollah construction enterprise, from the mountain of rubble it was turned into in July of 2006. Leveled as most in the neighborhood were, by American weapons in the service of the Zionist regime still occupying Palestine.

Contrary to media reports, the blast was not on my street, Abass Mousawi, behind Bahman Hospital, but rather down a side street one block over and two east toward the Hezbollah media office near  the Hezbollah sponsored Islamic Cooperation Center in the area of Bir al-Abed. The explosion occurred close to the Coop supermarket and Salah Ghandour Square.

Jumping on my motorbike I was one of the first to arrive on the scene face to face with an inferno that initially seemed to engulf ten or so cars in a parking lot surrounded by eight or nine Waad built highrise apartment buildings, being a few of the more than 250 residential buildings in our neighborhood leveled during the 33 day July 2006 war.

Finally, it seemed like an eternity, two fire trucks arrived and made their way thru the rapidly expanding chaos as nearby residential buildings with windows blown out started to empty of their inhabitants amidst fears that another blast may be triggered.  A few men joined this observer in pulling the very long hoses close to the inferno as medics arrived and searched for injured.  At press time, 38 neighbors were treated, including several children, at nearby Bahman Hospital and others rushed to Rasoul al-Alham hospital and Cardiac Care Center, ten minutes away on airport road.

I observed a six feet by six feet by around eight foot deep crater at the blast site. As I watched the Red Crescent and Hezbollah emergency services staff care for the injured and the many who were traumatized, the crowd quickly grew to a few thousand, with fear, shock and anger spreading.  Many elderly slumped against walls and curbs dazed while neighbor helped neighbor, especially the young to cope with the effects of the blast which shattered windows and caused serious damage to several nearby residential buildings, including cracks in their walls. There was much panic and shouting, with crying turning to anger and with people caring for the elderly and children with apartment building entrances set up as emergency treatment areas and neighbors helping neighboring reassure one another.

The Hezbollah neighborhood of Dahiyeh has been for years considered the safest residential area of Beirut due to strong Hezbollah security measures which over the past year have been intensified including the use of packs of explosive sniffing dogs moving up and across the streets and alleys, usually around three in the morning I have noticed since I often work during the night when its cooler and more quiet, and hearing a barking dog is very rare around here.  More scrutiny-security cameras have been placed on utility poles and on rooftopss, with security personnel frequently stopping and questioning new arrivals or visitors to the area and at time residents told not to go to their roofs.

Yet, as Syria’s President Bashar Assad noted several months ago, despite intensive security measures taken in Damascus, it is still very difficult to prevent car bombings.

The speculation has already started concerning who committed this act of terrorism,  one day before the start of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Whoever is was, cause the carnage by booby trapping a 1998  Renault Rapid. No one has yet claimed credit and likely will not.  Hezbollah’s International Relations official Hizbullah MP Ali Ammar told al-Manar that the blast was carried out by the supporters of the so-called American-Israeli project. “There are clear Israeli fingerprints,” Ammar said as he inspected the damage.

The Bir  al-Abed bombing , not far the William Casey ordered 1985 CIA bombing  that targeted Sayed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, in which 80 citizens were murdered and more than 200 wounded,   is  interpreted but some of the residents in my building, two families so far telling me they will move,  as simply a message for Hezbollah to leave Syria.  Because if it was a typical  al Qaeda operation aiming at maximum civilian deaths, detonating the blast a  few hundred yards in any direction would have left many more victims, according to a Hezbollah bomb specialist.

This observer counted 15 destroyed vehicles and more than 20 damaged.  A fierce fire erupted among some of the vehicles sending thick black smoke billowing high into the sky. I also saw gentlemen who I assumed was the parking lot attendant badly wounded.  Another wounded man near him seemed also to be in serious condition.

Reuters has reported five were killed but Hezbollah is denying this report and I met the Hezbollah Media director on the scene and his job was to get the facts straight before the Party of God made any announcements.

For many in my neighborhood, a major concern is that Syria’s troubles will reopen the wounds of Lebanon’s long civil war but this time with the Sunnis community, which by and large supports the Syrian opposition, being pitted against Hezbollah, the powerful Shite led Resistance organization which supports Syria President Bashar Assad.

A reliable Hezbollah source has just advised this observer that 53 have been wounded but so far no confirmed fatalities stood at 53. This is the second time this year that the Hezbollah stronghold has come under attack following threats of retaliation by Syrian rebels.

The concierge of my building just reported that as of 4 p.m. Beirut time on 7/9/2013, two suspects have been arrested following the blast.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and Syria and is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com

 

Franklin Lamb is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University and volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (sssp-lb.com).

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail