Hezbollah Ties Lebanon’s Political Stability to Resignation of Beirut Blast Probe Judge

A man cleans up shattered glass a day after the Tayyouneh clashes, October 15, 2021. (Reuters)
A man cleans up shattered glass a day after the Tayyouneh clashes, October 15, 2021. (Reuters)
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Hezbollah Ties Lebanon’s Political Stability to Resignation of Beirut Blast Probe Judge

A man cleans up shattered glass a day after the Tayyouneh clashes, October 15, 2021. (Reuters)
A man cleans up shattered glass a day after the Tayyouneh clashes, October 15, 2021. (Reuters)

Hezbollah tied on Saturday Lebanon’s political stability to the resignation of lead judge in the investigation of the Beirut port blast, Tarek Bitar.

Deputy leader of the Iran-backed party, Naim Qassem said Bitar “has become a real problem in Lebanon.”

The dispute has obstructed the work of the government for ten days now.

Parliamentary sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that there are no signs that it will be convening any time soon given that the dispute is not close to being resolved.

Qassem said: “We wanted a real investigator to reveal what happened at the port so that justice can prevail.”

He accused Bitar of “flagrantly politicizing the probe”, alleging that the relatives of the victims have grown suspicious of him and that he had almost caused strife in the Tayyouneh area in Beirut.

Some ten days ago, Hezbollah and its ally Amal had staged a protest against Bitar in Tayyouneh. Tensions between them and the Lebanese Forces (LF) boiled over, leading to armed clashes in the area reminiscent of the 1975-90 civil war. Seven people were killed in the fighting.

“What sort of investigator is this? He has brought us problems and crises. There can be no hope in justice coming from him,” declared Qassem.

“He is better off resigning so that stability can be restored and so people can have their justice,” he added.

He also slammed the LF over the Tayyouneh fighting, accusing it of planning the clashes beforehand as it had snipers ready to attack the peaceful protest.

“We succeeded in this confrontation because we snuffed out strife through patience and rationality,” he said, stressing that Hezbollah will follow through with the probe into the fighting so that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Former LF MP Fadi Karam expressed his concern that the “security apparatus” could be used to suppress the opposition.

He explained that Hezbollah was using the Tayyouneh incident to divert attention from the Beirut port blast probe so that it could shirk blame from that crime.

Former President Michel Suleiman expressed concern that the judiciary was coming under pressure over the Beirut blast probe and Tayyouneh clashes.

He echoed Karam’s remarks in that the clashes were being used to divert attention from the blast investigation.



Israeli Forces Pull Back after Gaza City Offensive, Leaving Dozens of Bodies

Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
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Israeli Forces Pull Back after Gaza City Offensive, Leaving Dozens of Bodies

Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas

Israeli forces retreated from some Gaza City districts overnight after a fierce, week-long military offensive, leaving dozens of dead and wrecked homes and roads in the Palestinian enclave's biggest urban area, residents and rescue service said on Friday.

The offensive, 10 months into Israel's campaign to eliminate Hamas militants, took place as US-backed mediators sought to finalize a peace deal that would free remaining hostages taken by the militants in their cross-border rampage on Oct. 7.

According to Reuters, the Gaza Civil Emergency Service said teams had collected around 60 bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the past week from the area of Tel Al-Hawa and the edges of the Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City.

Both residents and rescue teams cautioned that while tanks withdrew from some areas, Israeli snipers and tanks continued to control high ground at some locations, and warned residents against trying to return to their homes in those areas.

"There are bodies scattered in the streets, dismembered bodies, there are bodies of entire families, there are also bodies inside a home of an entire family that was completely burned," Gaza Strip Civil Defense spokesperson Mahmoud Basal said in comments carried by media in Hamas-run Gaza.

The Israeli military had said on Thursday that its forces were working to dismantle Hamas capabilities in Gaza City, and that it "follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm." It said the same was not true of Hamas.

The armed wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad said they had fought fierce battles against Israeli forces, attacking them with anti-tank rockets and mortar fire, killing and wounding many. There has been no Israeli army comment on those claims.

Home to more than a quarter of Gaza's residents before the war, Gaza City was largely razed to the ground in late 2023, but hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have returned to homes in the ruins. Israel has once again ordered them out, though it is unclear where residents can go safely. Israel controls most of Gaza's borders and is also attacking central and southern Gaza.