BEIRUT: Beirut residents who suffered damages after deadly Hezbollah clashes have filed a criminal case on Thursday against the Iran-backed group’s leader.
Lawyers filed the complaint before the Appeal Public Prosecution office in Mount Lebanon against Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and “everyone who appears in the investigation.”
This legal intervention follows Hezbollah also taking a hardline stance against the judge investigating the August 2020 Beirut blast, causing a row that has left Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s Cabinet unable to meet since Oct. 12, even as crises mount and poverty and hunger worsen.
The lawyers filed the complaint on behalf of the residents of the Ain El-Remmaneh area.
The residents were affected by the Tayyouneh incidents on Oct. 14 as a result of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement’s supporters entering the area and attacking properties.
Violent clashes broke out as Hezbollah and its Amal movement staged protests, calling for the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar, who is leading the blast probe.
The Oct. 14 protest turned Beirut into a war zone, with live-fire exchanges between rival parties leaving seven dead.
Thursday’s criminal complaint coincides with a rift between the Free Patriotic Movement and virtually its sole ally in power, Hezbollah.
The rift follows the Constitutional Council’s decision to turn down the appeal presented by the FPM over the changes to the electoral law added by the parliament.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun and his political team, represented by the FPM, believe that these changes are not in their interest.
FPM leader Gebran Bassil — in coordination with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri — showed his displeasure with Hezbollah during a press conference on Tuesday where he held the group responsible for what happened.
FPM supporters also took to social media platforms to share their anger and displeasure with the group.
This rift between the two allies is the first of its kind since the Mar Mikhael agreement of February 2006.
Despite the differences between the FPM and Hezbollah for more than 15 years, their relationship was never deeply shaken.
The FPM “is facing an electoral crisis,” said political observers.
They voiced doubts about the possibility of the FPM winning 12 deputies at the next elections, noting that it has the largest bloc in the parliament.
They added: “Even analyses indicate that Bassil’s parliamentary seat is under threat, as there are 27,000 votes in the third electoral district where he will run and most will vote against him.”
It is uncertain whether Hezbollah and the FPM will meet soon in light of Bassil’s fierce criticism.
Bassil, among 10 FPM deputies, requested to schedule a parliamentary accountability session for the government.
The Cabinet has been paralyzed since mid-October as a result of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement deciding that their ministers would boycott sessions until two demands are met.
They are demanding Judge Bitar’s removal from the port explosion probe and for the arrest of everyone involved in the shooting of their supporters Ain El-Remmaneh during the Tayouneh incident.
Judge Naji Eid, head of the First Chamber of the Civil Court of Cassation, accepted on Thursday the response request submitted by the representatives of former ministers Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter against Bitar, in regard to the port explosion probe.
Bitar was informed about this response, which is the seventh proposal for his dismissal from the investigation.
In relation to Hezbollah not responding to Bassil’s criticism, the party responded to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s positions less than 12 hours after he left Lebanon, emphasizing the need to implement the Security Council resolution 1701, which was written with the intent of ending the 2006 war.
Meanwhile, a number of young men in Shaqra, in the Beqaa Valley south of the Litani river, intercepted a UN Interim Force patrol, breaking car windows and attacking the troops, under the pretext of them entering the town without the Lebanese army and filming neighborhoods.
Hezbollah often conducts similar violent protests under the pretense that its members are acting as concerned citizens.
The Lebanese army arrived on the scene and protected the international soldiers and their vehicles.
UNIFIL put the Lebanese authorities in charge of this “dangerous incident,” asking them to investigate and bring the offenders to justice.
A statement from Candice Ardel, the deputy director of UNIFIL Media Office, referred to the emphasis of Guterres — when he visited the blue line in the south of Lebanon — on the need for UNIFIL’s operations to have full access — without any obstacles — to all the areas in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1701.
At the conclusion of his visit to Lebanon, Guterres emphasized during a press conference on Wednesday that “the Lebanese leaders do not have the right to punish the people by continuing to disagree.”
He also stressed “the need for Hezbollah to become a political party like the rest of the political powers in the country.”