Beirut Street Violence
- On Aug. 4, 2020, nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded at the port of Beirut.
- The blast killed over 200 people, injured 7,000 people, and left 300,000 people displaced.
Recent Protests and Corresponding Street Violence:
- On Oct. 14, 2021, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, both Shi'ite Muslim parties, organized a protest against Tarek Bitar, the judge responsible for investigating the Beruit explosion of August 2020.
- Earlier that week, Bitar issued an arrest warrant for Ali Hassan Khalil, a top Amal official. Khalil was accused of possessing prior knowledge of the lethal risks posed by having thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate at the port.
- Many Hezbollah and Amal supporters are frustrated with Bitar for investigating their political elites’ involvement in the Beirut port explosion and are thus calling for his removal.
- As the protestors marched towards the Palace of Justice in Beirut, snipers opened fire on them.
- Hezbollah blamed the Lebanese Forces (LF), its rival Christian political party, for instigating the attack.
- However, the Lebanese Forces denied this statement, placing general blame for the conflict on an abundance of weapons – many of which belong to Hezbollah – in the region.
- Sectarian tensions, nevertheless, were a major contributor to the conflict.
- The gunfight lasted four hours, leaving at least seven people dead and dozens injured.
- The violent clash was the worst civil violence in Beirut since 2008, and for many it was reminiscent of the 1975-1990 Lebanese Civil War, as both violent conflicts were largely located in the Tayouneh neighborhood of Beirut.
- The Lebanese army interfered and arrested nine individuals involved in the violence, including members from the Shi'ite Muslim parties, the Lebanese Forces, and one Syrian.