The killing of a senior member of the Lebanese Forces in southern Lebanon is threatening to deepen political and sectarian tensions in the country.
Elias Hasrouni, 72, was a member of the LF central council and former coordinator of the party in the Bint Jbeil region in the South. He was a resident of the Ain Ebel town near the border with Israel.
He had left his house in his car days ago and reported dead soon after, allegedly in an accident. However, videos taken from local surveillance cameras and posted on social media showed that his vehicle was intercepted by two others and led to another area. He was found dead soon after.
Ain Ebel is one of four Christian villages in the Bint Jbeil province. It is surrounded by predominantly Shiite villages in a region where Hezbollah wields wide influence.
Sources from Ain Ebel told Asharq Al-Awsat that no signs of violence or blood were found on Hasrouni’s body, which had led to the dismissal of claims of foul play. However, suspicions first arose when he left his house at night without informing his family.
The man was well-loved in his town, they added.
The videos showed that Hasrouni was lured to an area where he was killed, they said.
An autopsy revealed that Hasrouni was strangled and dealt a blow to the head and chest with a gun. His ribs were broken and one of his lungs was pierced, which ultimately led to his death.
His family has since resorted to the judiciary to find the criminals.
The death is threatening the delicate political and sectarian balance in Bint Jbeil, while anger has simmered in the victim’s hometown.
Hasrouni’s brother told Al-Jadeed television that the family will put its faith in the judiciary to uncover the truth.
“We will not accuse anyone. We live in this area in harmony with all sects and parties,” he added. He stressed that his brother was loved by everyone, regardless of their sects, casting doubt that his murder was politically motivated.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea called for uncovering the perpetrators “as soon as possible” given the tensions in Ain Ebel and the surrounding areas.