Lebanon, the Switzerland of Middle-East and its capital Beirut-the Paris of Middle-East, a house to 2.4 million people 1 , out of 6.8 2 million in whole of Lebanon , are smothered by blasts on August 4, 2020, by 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate kept in a waterfront warehouse at a port in Beirut, killing 135 people, leaving more than 5000 injured and the whole city being reduced to a rubble, with an estimated loss of more than 5 billion USD  3 and more than 3,00,000 people rendered homeless 4. The number of deaths, injured and the loss is likely to rise. Lebanon, an Ex. French colony, is now smashed to shambles and will take decades and decades to rebuild.  France President Emanuel Macron is the first head of the state to reach Beirut after the blasts. There is no electricity, no beds in hospitals which were already burdened by COVID-19 spread and now a general crisis for food is prevalent as Lebanon had already been under great duress of electricity outages and deepening economic crisis 5. Even the whatsapp had been made a paid-call 6.

The Lebanese establishment has ordered an inquiry and there are oblique references towards Hezbollah, an armed Shiite group supported by Iran and Hezbollah is one of the ruling parties -alliance in Lebanon. The latest political conflict exacerbated after the murder of Lebanese Ex. PM Rafiq Hariri on Feb 14, 2005 in which fingers were pointed towards Syrian government of Bashshar Assad which the Lebanese accuse of interfering in their politics. Syria very soon after the murder had to vacate its army back after nearly 30 years of staying in Lebanon. Syrian regime is supported by Iran and Russia and is battling US and other insurgent groups fighting to oust Assad. The verdict of Hariri murder was due on August 7, 2020 and which now stands delayed. Hezbollah is engaged in a conflict with Israel and which Israel finds as anathema and both have been engaged into bloody conflicts. Lebanon is a country with Christians, Sunni and Shiite Muslims as coalition partners to government.

Beirut is in tatters and Israel has denied its involvement but US President Donald Trump has upheld that it was an attack, while during media briefing on August 4, 2020, of a scale that it was heard 200 kms in Cyprus 7. The scale of the blast is perhaps the heaviest ever since Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed as the white mushroom cloud, which erupted at around 6 pm on August 4, 2020 will nonetheless remain permanently etched on public memory for the years to come.  “How can you say accident if somebody left some terrible explosive-type devices and things around perhaps — perhaps it was that. Perhaps it was an attack,” Trump told reporters during a White House briefing. “I don’t think anybody can say right now. We’re looking into it very strongly right now.  “But whether it was a bomb intentionally set off — it ended up being a bomb,” he said. “But no, I’ve heard it both ways. It could have been an accident and it could have also been something that was very offensive.”   The White House chief of staff Mark Meadows defended the president, saying Trump only told reporters on August 4, 2020 what military officials had told him. “The president shared with the American people what he was briefed on, with 100% certainty I can tell you that. ” To buttress his point Trump on August 6, 2020 again reiterated that it was an attack. 8

But, why would ever Israel admit it? The two-pronged strategy is that Israel would deny and US resuscitate it to make Israel reign supreme in the region and bolster the prospects of the Greater-Israel with the much needed force.  What happened in Beirut was in fact very much in the air, as it was also notably declared by Israel PM who on August 3, 2020 had tweeted “the matter with Lebanon is still in the air. We will hit anyone who tries to attack us and this principle applies to anyone who does attack us.”   Notwithstanding the planning of Israel which led to this devastation and destruction of human lives,  as it was on September 27,. 2018, when Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the UN general assembly laden with anti-Iran tirade, and during his speech of 40 min 23 sec, at 16 min 33 sec , he said, “ In Lebanon Iran has directed Hezbollah to build secret sites to convert an accurate projectiles into precious guided missiles, missiles that can target deep inside Israel with an accuracy of ten meters . Hezbollah, listen to this, Hezbollah is deliberately using the innocent people of Beirut ( who are now lying dead) as human shields , they have placed three of these missiles conversion sites along Beirut’s international airport. Then, he took a map, and pointed to it, saying, “Here is a picture that is worth a thousand missiles”. Netanyahu then showed a map where the three sites were shown purportedly to have stored missiles and it is the same sites which now been blown to smithereens.  At 18 min 14 Sec he said. “ So I have a message for Hezbollah today Israel knows Israel also knows what you are doing, Israel knows where you are doing and Israel will not let you get away with it,” clapping followed.  The video is available on You Tube 9 .

The recent political situation in Israel has been on the boil as it was only on August 2, 2020, some 60,000 protesters  10 had gathered outside the official residence of Netanyahu in Jerusalem demanding  his resignation over corruption charges and it is expected that defense minister Benny Gants is likely to take over him, but now the Lebanon blasts have occurred, and hence, Israel public has been subjected to a diversionist tactic, and moreover, the hawk Benny Gantz too is engaged into a hot-pursuit, as it was he who on July 31, 2020, four days, before the blast, had ordered Israel army to attack Lebanese infrastructure as a clear new strategy of departure from the past, for Israel in its fight against Hezbollah had not attacked Lebanon, but Gantz’s  order on July 31, 2020 ‘marked the first time Israel ha(d)s officially declared it will harm Lebanon even in response to an isolated-tactical attack’ 11. This preparation was quite underway as Israel had on July 21, 2020 killed five and wounded seven in an attack on Iranian ammunition depot in Syria. Those killed were said to be from Iran Quds Force 12 , apart from attacks on Iran’s nuclear Natanz on July 7, 2020 13 and also on Iran seven ships which were set ablaze on July 15, 2020 14 attributed to mystery fire.

What more worst time it could have been for Lebanon, as since October 2019, Lebanon had already lost 80% of its currency-value  15 and its foreign minister Nassif Hitti  had resigned on August 2, 2020 citing the country as a ‘failed- state’ 16  and it was also very heavily down by the COVID-19 pandemic with its dire economic situation, no wonder, the nation is now to drown into further sectarian/civil-war leading to the collapse of the whole country.  Israel on its part has gone into an apparent ‘sickening show of hypocrisy’ 17 as a published report in Haaretz on August 6, 2020 shows.  Meanwhile, Richard Silverstein who writes a blog has openly declared Israel Bombed Beirut 18.

However, what is leading to this mystery fires ? Which technology is making it so capable that a fire can be ignited sitting thousands of kms away ? More than 20 warehouses in Najaf, Iraq have been set ablaze on August 6, 2020 19 and more than 100 shops have been gutted by fire in Ajman, Dubai on August 6, 2020 too 20.  And, there has also been a mystery explosion in North Korea city bordering China on August 5, 2020 21 in which several people were killed.   It may be here reiterated that Benny Gantz had on July 5, 2020 euphemistically said that “Not every incident that transpires in Iran necessarily has something to do with us” .22 Its very high time the mystery is unraveled.

What would come out of probe by the Lebanese authorities is unclear but a news, that the ship lying abandoned since 2014 was owned by a Russian businessman Igor Grechushkin who has been identified as its owner living in Cyprus. 23 Has the blame game started? And, stories are also plentiful that Simpson cartoon has already foretold the Beirut Blasts 24!

The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner. He is also a lawyer based in Lucknow,

References:

  1. https://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/beirut-population
  2. https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/lebanon-population/
  3. https://www.shafaaq.com/en/World/5-billion-dollars-loss-in-Beirut-blast
  4. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/beirut-explosion-death-toll-latest-lebanon-port-homeless-victims-damage-a9656396.html
  5. https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2020/07/13/Left-in-the-dark-Lebanon-s-electricity-woes
  6. https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2019/10/17/lebanon-mulls-on-charging-residents-for-whatsapp
  7. https://www.financialmirror.com/2020/08/04/massive-beirut-blasts-seen-in-cyprus-heard-in-nicosia/
  8. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/us-officials-dispute-trumps-claim-beirut-attacked-72190863
  9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7ZPPaeMmmA
  10. https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/anti-netanyahu-protests-heat-peak-at-30000-report-637150
  11. https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/07/31/in-dramatic-policy-shift-israel-to-hold-lebanon-accountable-for-hezbollah-attack/
  12. https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/07/21/syria-5-killed-in-alleged-israeli-airstrikes-on-iranian-targets-in-daamascus/
  13. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/05/world/middleeast/iran-Natanz-nuclear-damage.html
  14. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-53417227
  15. https://news.bitcoin.com/lebanon-financial-meltdown-currency-plunges-central-bank-imf-bailout/
  16. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/lebanon-foreign-minister-quits-pm-lack-reformist-200803081938960.html
  17. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-is-in-shock-in-a-sickening-show-of-hypocrisy-1.9050449
  18. https://www.richardsilverstein.com/2020/08/04/breaking-israel-bombed-beirut/
  19. https://en.mehrnews.com/news/161944/VIDEO-Blaze-in-Food-warehouse-in-Najaf
  20. https://www.thenational.ae/uae/ajman-fire-dozens-of-shops-destroyed-as-investigation-into-cause-of-blaze-is-under-way-1.1059789
  21. https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/north-korea-hyesan-explosion-1.5674866
  22. https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/gantz-not-everything-that-happens-in-iran-is-connected-to-us-633933
  23.  https://www.businessinsider.in/thelife/news/the-ship-carrying-the-ammonium-nitrate-that-blew-up-in-beirut-was-abandoned-in-2014-by-a-russian-businessman-who-has-said-nothing-since-the-explosion/articleshow/77395734.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
  24. Nostradamus Of Springfield: The Simpsons ‘Predicted’ The Beirut Blast & Resemblance Is Uncanny

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