The explosion in Beirut's Bir al-Abed neighborhood apparently targeted a facility or a top Hezbollah figure. It is safe to assume that the target was not a member of Hezbollah's diplomatic leadership, but a figure in the Shiite movement's military-political leadership. Dozens of people were reportedly injured in the blast.
A television station in Lebanon claims the car bomb was meant to harm the entourage of a senior Hezbollah figure, but this is not yet certain. It also remains unclear whether a top Hezbollah operative was hurt. A car bomb is not an accurate killing device, and the explosion often misses its target. This could have been the case in Tuesday's attack. Other questions are: Who carried out the attack and who orchestrated it?
In Lebanon and Syria there are groups and individuals who have a score to settle with Hezbollah. I am not referring only to rebel groups in Syria, but also to Sunnis in Lebanon and Shiite families who lost their loved ones in battles beyond the border. And we must also mention Israel, which has a score to settle not only with Hezbollah but also with its secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah.
The method of operation – a car bomb laden with dozens of kilograms of explosives, is a hallmark of Islamist organizations operating in Syria – mainly organizations affiliated with al-Qaeda that are headed by the Sunni Jabhat al-Nusra, whose members detonate car bombs on facilities belonging to the Assad regime on a near daily basis. The Sunni jihadists have counterparts in Lebanon, mainly in the north, in Tripoli, but also in Sidon and other places. They also have a score to settle with Hezbollah.
The bomb used in the Beirut attack was relatively small, so it may not have been an indiscriminate attack - which is characteristic of al-Qaeda in Syria – but an attempt to harm specific people or an entourage. Forty kilos are not enough to blow up a military facility or even an apartment building in Beirut.
We also cannot rule out the possibility that the bomb was planted by one group, while those who sent them belong to a separate group. Regardless of who was behind the bombing, it indicates that the civil war in Syria is spilling over into Lebanon and may even expand. Hezbollah is now getting a taste of the bitter dish it prepared.