התפרעויות בביירות
An effigy of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah hanging in Beirut
Photo: EPA
An effigy of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah hanging in Beirut

Angry Lebanese say Hezbollah worse than Israel

After catastrophic Beirut blast, Lebanese citizens demand prosecution of corrupt politicians, direct ire at Iranian-backed Shi'ite group and its leader Hassan Nasrallah

Daniel Salami |
Published: 08.09.20 , 18:28
In the wake of last week's explosion at a chemical warehouse in Beirut's port, criticism keeps mounting in Lebanon on Hezbollah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, as more and more voices in the devastated country call for reforms and a transparent investigation into the disaster.
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  • An image of Nasrallah was hoisted with a noose tied around it during protests in Beirut on Saturday, marking the growing pressure on the Shi'ite organization by its opponents in Lebanon.
    התפרעויות בביירותהתפרעויות בביירות
    An effigy of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah hanging in Beirut
    (Photo: EPA)
    Social media users suggested repeatedly that Hezbollah had something to do with the blast or at least could have prevented it.
    These are only some of the harsh allegations that have been made against Hezbollah for years, chief among them are the accusations that its assistance in Syria to President Bashar Assad's regime and its attacks on Israel endanger Lebanon's security and serve mainly Iran – whose deep involvement in the management of Lebanon's government institutions prevents international parties from helping in the rebuilding of its devastated economy.
    This criticism does not necessarily reflect any immediate danger to Hezbollah since the terrorist faction has many supporters in Lebanon, mainly the Shi'ite sector that it represents.
    לבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל כתבת כועסים על חיזבאללה חסן נסראללה כתבה של דניאל סלאמהלבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל כתבת כועסים על חיזבאללה חסן נסראללה כתבה של דניאל סלאמה
    Photo of mushroom cloud taken seconds after the Beirut Port explosion with the Nasrallah's headdress on top of it
    Even the calls made this week by residents of Beirut to French President Emanuel Macron during his visit – "Free us from Hezbollah" – were heard in the heart of a neighborhood that most of its residents are Christians who are not among the organization's natural supporters.
    However, the discourse around Hezbollah's responsibility for the explosion and the danger it brings to Lebanon is growing.
    A Tuesday report on Lebanese television channel MTV whose credibility is unclear said that Hezbollah personnel disguised as members of a rescue organization belonging to the terrorist organization to enter the site of the explosion and "perform some work there."
    The report was attributed to "a military source involved in the details of the investigation."
    Hezbollah personnel have, indeed, been spotted at the scene of the blast taking part in rescue efforts but there is no confirmation that these were not aid workers.
    לבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל כתבת כועסים על חיזבאללה חסן נסראללה כתבה של דניאל סלאמהלבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל כתבת כועסים על חיזבאללה חסן נסראללה כתבה של דניאל סלאמה
    Caricature of Nasrallah lighting explosives under a cedar tree - the symbol of Lebanon
    Immediately after the report on MTV, Hezbollah members rushed to attack the channel on social media and call it a "Zionist channel," and the Lebanese army also denied the report vehemently.
    Nasrallah himself launched an attack at the channel during his speech over the weekend without naming it. He called on viewers to boycott the channel and accused it of trying to ignite a civil war.
    Shi'ite Muslim journalist Dima Sadek, who worked until recently in media outlets that are unsupportive of Hezbollah, published a video in which she criticizes the Shi'ite organization and Nasrallah.
    She claimed that the organization's security personnel were at the port and that it was well aware of the danger lurking there.
    "Even Israel, an enemy and criminal state, with everything it has done to us, has never detonated an atomic bomb on us or anyone else," Sadek said in her video.
    "You claim you're here to protect us. After all, your security people were at the port. You force us to accept you as a part of the state, but what did you do? Do you really want to say you did not know there were 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in the port? Israel has not done to us what you are doing."
    לבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל כתבת כועסים על חיזבאללה חסן נסראללה כתבה של דניאל סלאמהלבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל כתבת כועסים על חיזבאללה חסן נסראללה כתבה של דניאל סלאמה
    Caricature depicting Nasrallah burying weapons in Lebanese soil and cutting down the cedar tree, the symbol of the country
    On social media, some Lebanese users claimed that the ammonium nitrate that exploded actually belonged to Hezbollah itself, and others accused the organization of storing weapons in the port.
    Hezbollah critics on social media circulated photos, videos and memes that linked Nasrallah to the disaster and attacked him for his attitude towards it.
    One photo of the mushroom cloud taken seconds after the explosion with the Shi'ite leader's headdress on top of it - a thick hint that Hezbollah is responsible for the disaster in one way or another.
    In two cartoons other cartoons, Nasrallah is seen burying weapons in Lebanese soil, setting them on fire and cutting down the cedar tree, the symbol of the country.
    לבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל כתבת כועסים על חיזבאללה חסן נסראללה כתבה של דניאל סלאמהלבנון ביירות אסון פיצוץ נמל כתבת כועסים על חיזבאללה חסן נסראללה כתבה של דניאל סלאמה
    Top image - after the deaths of more than 200 Lebanese, 4,000 wounded and the destruction of the port of Beirut and hundreds of nearby houses; Bottom image - after the assassination of an Iranian terrorist
    A Lebanese woman shared a video on social media where she is seen throwing a shoe at the television during Nasrallah's speech during the weekend.
    Another image shared by many shows Nasrallah smiling during his speech with the caption, "after the deaths of more than 200 Lebanese, 4,000 wounded and the destruction of the port of Beirut and hundreds of nearby houses", and below it is another screenshot showing him crying over the death of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps General Qassem Suleimani with the caption, "after the assassination of an Iranian terrorist."
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