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It Is An Approach, Not An 'Incident'

It Is An Approach, Not An 'Incident'

Wednesday, 15 December, 2021 - 10:00

The scene we saw recently at the Burj al-Shamali refugee camp next to the southern Lebanese city of Tyre on Friday is one we have seen many times before. It is a play of three successive acts.


Act one: the tragedy. In this camp, where over 20,000 people live, weapons and ammunition depot belonging to Hamas Movement explodes. According to the most circulated narrative, the explosion was ignited by a fire that had broken out in the Ubbay bin Kaab Mosque in the middle of the camp. The outcome, though the numbers are not yet confirmed, is two dead and a number (?) of wounded and injured.


Act two: the lie. Hamas issues a statement saying: “After looking into the facts of the incident and listening to eyewitnesses, it became apparent to us that it had been caused by an electrical short circuit in a warehouse containing a quantity of oxygen and gas cylinders designated for coronavirus patients, as well as cleaning and sterilization equipment.” The statement added that the supplies “were supposed to be distributed as part of a relief effort.”


Act three: the factions clash. During the funeral held for Hamza Chahine, one of those who had lost their lives because of the explosion, a clash erupted between armed men from the Palestinian factions Hamas and Fateh, leaving four dead and eight injured.


The arms depots, the rise in deaths (from 2 to 4), and contempt for people’s intelligence, including the victims’ families, are yet another indication of the kind of approach to which Hamas, as well as that of the organizations that resemble it, has adopted for managing the conflict with Israel. What is important is the tools of violence. Humans are details. The mosque’s sanctity is also a detail. Lebanon itself is a detail; its desecration, the desecration of the mosque, and taking human life are always justifiable when done for the sake of the ‘cause.’


We are thus facing a new form of experimentation with this formula that puts weapons in one spot and the residents (with their property, meanings, symbols, and shrines) in another. Hezbollah’s arsenal, which at least four-quarters of the Lebanese people reject, is a model school for teaching this approach: what is important is the weapons, not what people think of those weapons or the harm that befalls the people because of them.


Indeed, the Port of Beirut explosion during last year's summer inaugurated a new and very advanced stage of this approach’s implementation that Hamas, Hezbollah, and the other parties to the axis of resistance follow: storing Ammonium Nitrate, which cannot happen and is impossible to understand outside the framework of plunging Lebanon into armed conflicts that the Lebanese have no right to interfere with (that was before it became clear that investigating the matter should not be interfered with either).


That is exactly what a cause’s decay looks like: the absence of any bridge between residents’ lives and the weapons and for the arsenal’s cause to become entirely separate from the people, that is, something devoid of anything noble, to say nothing about being progressive or liberating. This kind of arsenal has the capacity, at any moment, to target the people themselves as superfluous beings that can be done without. Over the past few years, we have seen the implementation of the most advanced stages of this approach, that is, the Syrian regime’s horrifying implementation: the regime’s survival and confronting “the war on Syria” with an arsenal of chemical weapons, barrel bombs and all the death and broad displacement they produce.


Here, let’s remind these forces living off a certain militant cause of the Latin concept ‘Jus Ad Bellum,’ that is, the principles and criteria that make war just: having just cause, waging war only as a last resort, and having it declared by a proper authority, having the right intention, having a reasonable chance of success, and the end of the war being proportional to the means used.


Almost none of these requisites are met by our belligerents who blow people up, their people, and then lie to them, as well as desecrating everything in their hands or touching their hands.


It could be said that very few wars meet the criteria mentioned above. While that is true, it is also true that the gap that separates them from those criteria is rarely as large as that we are seeing in our region today. For this reason, it would be correct to describe the epoch we are living in as one of decay: the justice and righteousness of these fighters’ causes have been and continue to be eaten away by these causes’ injustice.


Those who were living in Beirut on the eve of the 1982 war know what this decay means. The same approach, applied on a broader scale, strikes again. Today, as the talk about wars erupting in our region blooms, there are fears that we are on the cusp of going back to square one.


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