Lebanese Protests and Palestinian Solidarity: Anger Erupts After Gaza Hospital Blast
Lebanon has been gripped by protests and demonstrations following the devastating blast at Al-Ahli Al-Arabi Hospital in the Gaza Strip. The explosion, which claimed the lives of innocent Palestinians, has sparked outrage and calls for justice throughout the country.
National mourning has been observed, with flags raised at half-mast over official administrations and institutions. Educational and trade union institutions have also been closed as a mark of respect. Palestinian refugees have taken to the streets, demanding to be armed and sent to Gaza in a show of solidarity.
Protesters have targeted various locations, including the UN House in Beirut and the US embassy in the Awkar area. The southern suburb of Beirut witnessed a demonstration by Hezbollah. In a powerful gesture of support, medical teams in Lebanese hospitals observed a minute’s silence in front of hospital entrances.
The protests near the US embassy turned violent, with clashes between protesters, riot police, and Lebanese army units. Tear bombs and water cannons were used to disperse the crowd as they attempted to breach the barbed wire fence. Similar violence erupted on Tuesday night, resulting in the destruction of shops in the area.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati joined a sit-in outside the Ministry of Health headquarters to express solidarity with the Palestinians. Mikati criticized the international community for its inaction, stating that human values were being violated in Gaza. He questioned the role of the UN and the Security Council in addressing the ongoing crisis.
Hashim Safi Al-Din, head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, addressed demonstrators in the southern suburb of Beirut. He warned US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that attempts to displace the people of Gaza would be met with a resounding response from the resistance. Al-Din emphasized that they were now stronger than ever and urged caution against any mistakes.
Protesters across Lebanon, including women dressed in black, raised Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against Israel and the US. They denounced the perceived double standards in dealing with the attack. The demonstrations were accompanied by strict security measures implemented by the Lebanese army.
In Baalbek, Mufti Sheikh Bakr Rifai criticized the reaction of the free world, stating that it encouraged the Israeli enemy to continue its aggression. He condemned the ongoing massacres and called for justice for the innocent victims.
The cities of Sidon and Tripoli, along with the Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp, also witnessed marches in support of Palestine and solidarity with the victims in Gaza. The anger and frustration among Lebanese citizens were palpable as they took to the streets to express their outrage.
In response to the protests, Hezbollah targeted an Israeli army Merkava tank at the Al-Raheb site on the southern border. The party reported that soldiers on board were killed and injured. Israeli warplanes flew over the border areas, and the forested area on the outskirts of Alma Al-Shaab was subjected to bombing.
Despite the escalating tensions, UNIFIL peacekeepers remain in their positions and on task. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon is working tirelessly to defuse tension and prevent further deterioration of the situation.
Hezbollah has mourned the loss of five of its members, bringing the total number of casualties during the border escalation to 10. In light of the unrest, the US embassy in Lebanon has recommended that US citizens make arrangements to leave the country. The French embassy has also advised its nationals against traveling to or staying in Lebanon, except for urgent reasons.
The protests in Lebanon reflect a deep sense of solidarity with the Palestinian people and a demand for justice. As tensions continue to rise, it remains to be seen how the international community will respond and whether meaningful action will be taken to address the ongoing crisis in Gaza.