Hezbollah’s Great Diversion

First published by The Gatestone Institute

by Khaled Abu Toameh

  • Many Lebanese are demanding answers to role of the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization in the port “massacre.” They are also demanding an end to Iran’s occupation of Lebanon.
  • Although the Lebanese government has set up a commission of inquiry into the port explosion, many Lebanese are wondering why the results have not been published yet. They are convinced that the Lebanese government is afraid to point the finger of blame at Hezbollah.

More than four months have passed since the huge explosion at the port of the Lebanese capital of Beirut, and many Lebanese are demanding answers to role of the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization in the port “massacre.” They are also demanding an end to Iran’s occupation of Lebanon.

On August 4, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the Beirut port exploded, causing at least 204 deaths, 6,500 injuries, and $15 billion in property damage. An estimated 300,000 people were left homeless.

Many of Hezbollah’s political and civil opponents blamed the terrorist organization for storing the dangerous chemicals. A commission of inquiry set up by the Lebanese government has so far failed to provide satisfactory answers, prompting many Lebanese to call for an international probe. Denying responsibility, Hezbollah this week threatened to sue those who have accused it of being behind the explosion.

Hezbollah’s denial, however, has failed to convince many Lebanese, who are saying they are fed up with the terrorist organization’s lies. On December 5, Lebanese demonstrators took to the streets, chanting “Hezbollah the terrorist” and asking questions about its role in the explosion.

“We, Lebanese, should do to [Hezbollah Secretary-General] Hassan Nasrallah the same thing Libyans did to [slain Libyan dictator] Gaddafi: Step on his face and crush it.,” The Beirut Journal wrote on Twitter.

A hashtag named “Hezbollah is Terror” that has recently been trending on Twitter and other social media platforms accuses the terrorist organization of hijacking and destroying Lebanon to serve the interests of Iran. The hashtag further accuses Hezbollah terrorists of beating and intimidating peaceful demonstrators in various parts of Lebanon.

“What has Nasrallah done to the Lebanese people?” asked Lebanese social media user Martine J. Zaarour. “1. Killed our people. 2. Stolen our money. 3. Destroyed Beirut. 4. Placed on the terrorist list 5. Made war with Israel. 6. Prioritized Palestinians and Syrians. 8. Threatened us with illegal weapons.”

Some Lebanese citizens scoffed at Hezbollah’s threat to sue those who hold it responsible for the port explosion. “If Hezbollah is resorting to the judiciary, this means that it trusts the Lebanese state,” remarked Lebanese political activist Charbel Frem. “So why does Hezbollah not surrender its weapons to the state?”

In response, Nizar Salloum, also from Lebanon, wrote: “Hezbollah trusts the judiciary it controls with its weapons.”

Although the Lebanese government has set up a commission of inquiry into the port explosion, many Lebanese are wondering why the results have not been published yet. They are convinced that the Lebanese government is afraid to point the finger of blame at Hezbollah.

“Four months have passed,” noted Larissa Aoun, a Lebanese reporter for Sky News Arabia. “Where is the investigation? Where is justice? Who is responsible? We will not forget.”

Alarmed by the growing criticism of Hezbollah’s presence as a state-within-a-state in Lebanon and allegations over its responsibility for the Beirut explosion, the terrorist organization has begun berating and intimidating journalists who dare to speak out.

One victim, Maraim Seif, was recently attacked at her home by Hezbollah terrorists for her repeated criticism of the terrorist organization.

“Hezbollah’s ‘resistance fighters’ have officially turned into thugs,” commented Lebanese anchorwoman Dima Sadek. “These resistance fighters attacked the activist, journalist and friend Mariam Seif and her family, beat them and threatened to kill them. Mariam was assaulted for articles she wrote attacking Hezbollah.”

Sadek herself was targeted by Hezbollah thugs for supporting protests against the terrorist organization. She recently resigned from Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International after receiving threats from Hezbollah.

“Lebanon is ruled by an armed militia and a corrupted mafia,” said Serge Dagher, Secretary-General of the Lebanese Kataeb party. “No change can be achieved in this country expect with holding parliament elections, changing the ruling authority as a whole as well as the mafia and militia that has been prevailing over the country for the past period.” He blamed the Lebanese government for mishandling the Beirut port explosion and pointed out that none of the Lebanese officials has taken to the streets and supported the people.

The failure of the Lebanese authorities to reveal the identities of those responsible for the explosion has led several Lebanese politicians, political activists and journalists to call for the intervention of the international community.

Samir Geagea, Chairman of the Lebanese Forces, a Christian political party, threatened to resort to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the Lebanese government’s investigation into the port explosion does not reach clear results. “We will go to the International Criminal Court to uncover the truth and the circumstances surrounding this crime,” he said.

In an apparent attempt to divert attention from the port explosion, Hezbollah claimed on December 5 that one of its unmanned aerial drones flew over the Galilee in northern Israel. The claim came as Lebanon is facing a deep economic crisis and amid growing outrage in the country over Hezbollah’s responsibility for the disasters that have befallen the Lebanese people in the past few decades.

The Lebanese are naïve in the extreme to believe that the international community is going to listen to their grievances or interfere to stop Hezbollah and its masters in Iran from destroying Lebanon. They are also painfully naïve if they believe that anyone in the international community cares about the assaults and threats against Lebanese journalists and activists who criticize Hezbollah or call for an end to Iran’s occupation of Lebanon.

The international community has more pressing issues on its mind: Israel. Earlier this month, the United Nations General Assembly approved five pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli resolutions.

The Lebanese who have lost their loved ones or their homes in the port explosion could not care less about Israel.

In fact, such resolutions are harmful to the Lebanese because they keep the world’s attention focused only on Israel. The UN is not going to provide relief or answers to the families of the victims of the Lebanon explosion because its members are busy passing resolutions day and night against Israel. The only step left for the Lebanese is to revolt against the terrorist organization that has turned their country into a military and political base for the mullahs in Tehran.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

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