Lebanese-Israeli maritime talks to end in few days: official

September 13, 2022 23:34

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

    Lebanon and the Israeli occupation are close to concluding their talks regarding the demarcation of the maritime borders between the two, according to a high-ranking security official.

    Lebanese Security General Director General Abbas Ibrahim

    Talks regarding the maritime border between Lebanon and the Israeli occupation are nearing their conclusion, with a final agreement being days away after nearly two years of negotiations, Lebanese General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said on Tuesday.

    “We’re talking about weeks – actually, days – to finish the delineation issue. I’m hopeful that the situation is positive,” he told Lebanese news channel Al-Jadeed.

    Lebanon and the Israeli occupation have been participating in indirect, US-mediated talks to draw a line between the two parties’ maritime areas, which would determine who has ownership over which oil and gas resources.

    Ibrahim was part of the meetings that took place last week with US mediator Amos Hochstein, who said his visit to Beirut a few days ago proved that the talks were making “very good progress” between Lebanon and “Israel”.

    Hochstein had arrived in Lebanon during the past few days to hold a lightning round of talks with senior officials. He met President Michel Aoun, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Elias Bou Saab, and Ibrahim.

    Hochstein said he believes that “it will be beneficial to all parties, and I am very optimistic after what I heard during the talks” adding that “more efforts must be done, and the United States is committed to resolving the outstanding issues to reach an agreement that is in the interest of the Lebanese people.”

    Read next: Exclusive: Hochstein hands Lebanon latest coordinates

    According to Bou Saab, maritime demarcation negotiations with the Israeli occupation are “going in the right direction,” affirming that “communication and contacts will intensify in September and we hope we will be able to reach a result.”

    In conjunction with these statements, US President Joe Biden had stressed to the Israeli occupation Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, the importance of completing negotiations to demarcate the maritime borders with Lebanon in the coming weeks.

    Axios quoted a White House official as saying that resolving the maritime issue between “Israel” and Lebanon is a major priority for the administration of US President Joe Biden.

    MBS Used ‘Israeli’ Spyware Pegasus to Spy on Lebanese, Hezbollah Officials – Report


    MBS Used ‘Israeli’ Spyware Pegasus to Spy on Lebanese, Hezbollah Officials - Report

    By Staff, Agencies

    An ‘Israeli’ software company is revealed to have helped Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman [MBS] take over the smart phones of high-ranking Lebanese authorities, senior figures of Hezbollah resistance movement as well as journalists, and spy on their communications.

    According to the report published by the French daily newspaper Le Monde, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler used the NSO Group’s cell phone-hacking software, Pegasus, to conduct cyber-espionage on Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, former prime minister Saad Hariri, former foreign minister and leader of the Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil, and Chief of the Directorate of General Security Major General Abbas Ibrahim.

    The report added the ‘Israeli’ spyware was abused on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between 2018 and 2019 to spy on some Lebanese political officials and journalists.

    Le Monde said the Saudi crown prince also called for espionage on Lebanese lawmakers representing Hezbollah Hassan Fadlallah and Ali Fayyad, governor of Lebanon’s central bank Riad Salameh and former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil.

    The report added that the Riyadh and Abu Dhabi regimes had demanded that two renowned Lebanese journalists, director of Beirut-based al-Mayadeen television news network Ghassan bin Jiddo, and correspondent and political analyst for al-Akhbar Arabic language newspaper Ibrahim al-Amin, be kept under close watch.

    Similarly, the United Arab Emirates has apparently deployed digital spyware enabling surveillance of top leaders of Yemen’s popular Ansarullah resistance movement and officials from the administration of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

    The Arabic-language al-Khabar al-Yemeni news website reported that Ansarullah’s leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi and Chairman of the Yemeni Supreme Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al-Houthi were among senior Yemeni officials targeted by the UAE.

    According to the report, Hadi was also on the list of targets.

    One of the most prominent targets was Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, the former Yemeni prime minister in Hadi’s government. He was under surveillance since April 2016 until the end of 2018.

    Being a highly invasive tool, Pegasus is said to be able to turn on the victim’s cell phone camera and microphone and access data on it, meaning that it can effectively turn the phone into a pocket spy.

    The ‘Israeli’ firm NSO has been in the headlines since 2016 when experts said it was helping spy on an activist in the UAE.

    The University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, through a study, has found a link between the NSO technology and political surveillance in Mexico, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

    Victims of the hacking spree included diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and top government officials.

    جورج عبدالله: لن أتنازل عن موقفي ولا تُفاوضوا على براءتي George Abdullah: I will not give up my position nor negotiate my innocence

    **English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **


    Lea Al-Qazi Thursday, April 1, 2021

    I will not regret, I will not bargain, I will still resist

    The visit of Minister Marie-Claude Najm and General Abbas Ibrahim to Paris, and their meeting with French officials to discuss the issue of the Freedom Fighter Georges Ibrahim Abdullah, reactivated the stagnant waters and raised the level of hope as his release approaches. “Negotiations are advanced,” according to follow-up sources, without exaggerating, because France still requires Abdullah to apologize for his past, while he rejects the principle of researching the origin of his political position on his struggle and from his present and his present.

    «… I promise you That I will not leave you,” French President Emmanuel Macron told the Lebanese after his visit to Mrs. Fairouz last September… He was the one who came, leaving Georges Ibrahim Abdullah in French custody. Since the August 4 Beirut explosion, Macron has come twice to Lebanon, without seeking to erase the shame of his country in the Abdullah case. He spoke about the titles of “Reform” and gave lessons in “nation-building”, forgetting France’s flagrant violation of human rights in the subject of Abdullah and the continued detention of his freedom despite the expiry of his sentence in 1999. 37 years have passed since the son of the “Lebanese Revolutionary Brigades” was arrested in Paris. Since then, France has implemented the orders of the USA and ‘Israel’ enemy to prevent his release and to implement requests for parole. In 2013, the Public Prosecutor’s Office in France abstained from implementing the decision of the Paris Sanctions Enforcement Chamber to release Abdullah, and then it was entitled to reject many requests for parole.

    In 2018, the Lebanese state, for the first time, embraced the cause of the fighter George Ibrahim Abdullah, to no avail. The French “blackmailed” Abdullah with his freedom and stipulated that he apologize for his past and announce his repentance, which George refused. But suddenly, his has returned to the forefront of the Lebanese scene, and talk of his release is coming to an end.

    In her first is the visit to the prison of “Lanmezan”, the Minister of Justice in the caretaker government, Marie-Claude Negm, met with George twice in one day for a period of three hours. The goal of visiting France was not to meet Abdullah, rather it was basically a private visit. Before leaving Lebanon, She discussed with President Michel Aoun, Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, and the rest of the concerned parties, if they would welcome her meeting with Abdullah, and the answer was positive.

    President Aoun approached the French President, while he was in Lebanon, about Abdullah’s case. Macron raised the legal dimension, which led Aoun to decide to send a legal figure. Preparations for Najm’s visit to the prison took place after her arrival in France, and the French were keen to link approval of the visit request by not allowing the minister to give any information to the media before and after the visit, according to diplomatic sources.

    Robert Abdullah, George’s brother, says that the latter “was comfortable during his meeting with Najm, especially since it was the first time that a Lebanese minister visited him, and she informed him that there is an official follow-up to his case.”

    The French demand abdullah’s apology for his past to grant him a presidential pardon

    The second development is the visit of the Director General of Public Security, General Abbas Ibrahim, France, and his meetings with French officials during which he discussed Abdullah’s release, as part of an additional agenda that includes the French position on the government issue in Lebanon and the background of French talk about sanctions against Lebanese officials on charges of obstructing the formation of the government.

    “This time there is a French seriousness in the case of Georges Abdullah that we have not previously entrusted,” said sources following up on the issue, considering that “the negotiations have come a long way.” However, betting on the “French conscience” remains an obligation. The case did not reach the finish line, due to obstacles that the French authorities are still raising in the face of Lebanon. According to the information, before Najm’s visit accompanied by Ambassador Rami Adwan – and meeting prisoner Abdullah, she met with French officials who told her that “the key to resolving the issue is Abdullah’s issuance of a statement presenting his apology to the families of those who have fallen into the operations he was accused of carrying out and his remorse for the past, at which time a French presidential pardon will be issued for him. Set him free ».

    George, who is celebrating his 70th birthday on April 2nd, reminded the Minister of Justice of his positions against imperialism, stressing his commitment to the resistance approach, reiterating his lack of remorse and refusal to apologize for his past. More importantly, George is sticking to what he had previously said: he refused to beg for his freedom, and he wishes the authorities in Beirut not to negotiate his release on French terms. He sees himself as a political prisoner, and France is responsible for his detention or even execution in prison.

    Abdullah’s lawyer, Jean-Louis Chalansse, told Al-Akhbar that there were no new factors in the file, especially since “last September, we applied for a new parole for George, and we still have not received an answer until now.” The lawyer is currently considering transferring the file to the European judicial services.

    The official French silence was matched by a rise in popular movements condemning the decision to arrest George. Robert Abdallah says that the movements are escalating “slowly but regularly, whether through popular solidarity or the letters that MPs send to the Elysee to release George.” It can be said that, to a certain extent, the subject has begun to turn into an issue of public opinion in France ». In this context, Alain Pujola, one of the founders of New Anti-Capitalism Party (NPA), says that in previous years, “we have been suffering from campaigns of intimidation and misinformation against George and his family in the French press.” Currently, participation in demonstrations and meetings is still relatively small, but they are widespread in many French cities.” Pujola is the founder of The Liberation Of Abdullah Rally, in an interview with Al-Akhbar, considered that “the ball is in the court of the Lebanese who have to exploit their relations with the French administration and press for release.”

    The most basic rules of diplomatic work and international relations if it is committed to the release of Abdullah through the use of “legitimate” means, to suspend any cooperation with Paris until resolving Abdullah’s case ….
    Not to allow Macron to restore his “colonial glories”, acting as if he were qualified to launch “rescue” initiatives, threaten political sanctions and appoint ministers and officials, Especially since Macron represents a continuation of the submissive French mentality in the face of “Israel” interests. His speech is still echoed at the Higher Institute of Business ESA before his election as president in 2017, when he announced from Beirut that he was “against France’s recognition of the Palestinian state without a peace agreement between the two parties, and against any pressure on Israel.” George is not accused of carrying out any operation against French citizens, but because his struggle was in the face of the forces of domination and colonialism and in defense of peoples, his “crime” will remain unpardoned.

    جورج عبدالله: لن أتنازل عن موقفي ولا تُفاوضوا على براءتي


    ليا القزي الخميس 1 نيسان 2021

    جورج عبدالله: لن أتنازل عن موقفي ولا تُفاوضوا على براءتي
    تقدّم محامي جورج بطلب إفراج مشروط في أيلول من دون جواب (مروان بو حيدر)

    زيارة الوزيرة ماري كلود نجم واللواء عبّاس إبراهيم لباريس، ولقاؤهما مسؤولين فرنسيين لبحث قضية المناضل جورج إبراهيم عبد الله، أعاد تحريك المياه الراكدة ورفع منسوب الأمل باقتراب إطلاق سراحه. «المفاوضات مُتقدمة»، تقول مصادر مُتابعة، من دون أن تُبالغ بالإيجابية، لأنّ فرنسا ما زالت تشترط اعتذار عبدالله عن ماضيه، فيما هو يرفض مبدأ البحث في أصل موقفه السياسي من نضاله ومن حاضره«… أعدكم بأنّني لن أترككم»، قال رئيس فرنسا إيمانويل ماكرون للبنانيين بعد زيارته السيّدة فيروز في أيلول الماضي… هو الذي أتى تَاركاً جورج ابراهيم عبدالله في المعتقل الفرنسي. منذ انفجار 4 آب، قَدِم ماكرون مرّتين إلى لبنان، من دون أن يسعى في أيّ منهما إلى محو عار دولته في قضيّة عبدالله. تكلّم عن عناوين «إصلاحية» وأعطى دروساً في «بناء الدولة»، مُتناسياً انتهاك فرنسا الفاضح لحقوق الانسان في موضوع عبدالله واستمرار احتجاز حرّيته رغم انتهاء مدّة محكوميته سنة 1999. 37 سنة مرّت على اعتقال ابن «الألوية الثورية اللبنانية في باريس، ليُصبح في ذلك أقدم الأسرى السياسيين في أوروبا. ومن حينه، تُنفّذ فرنسا أوامر الولايات المتحدة الأميركية والعدّو الاسرائيلي في منع إطلاق سراحه وتنفيذ طلبات الإفراج المشروط. في الـ2013، امتنعت النيابة العامة في فرنسا عن تنفيذ قرار غرفة تطبيق العقوبات في باريس الإفراج عن عبدالله، ثمّ لحقها رفض العديد من طلبات الإفراج المشروط.

    عام 2018، تبنّت الدولة اللبنانية للمرّة الأولى قضيّة المناضل جورج إبراهيم عبدالله، عبر ثلاثي رئاسة الجمهورية – وزارة الخارجية والمغتربين – الأمن العام، من دون نتيجة. فالفرنسيون «ابتزّوا» عبدالله بحريته عبر اشتراط تقديمه اعتذاراً عن ماضيه وإعلانه التوبة، ما رفضه جورج. لكن فجأةً، عادت قضية المُناضل الأممي لتتصدّر المشهد اللبناني، ويرتفع الحديث عن اقتراب الإفراج عنه.
    تطوران «يُبرّران» هذه الإيجابية؛ الأول هو زيارة وزيرة العدل في حكومة تصريف الأعمال، ماري كلود نجم، سجن «لانميزان» ولقاؤها جورج مرّتين في يومٍ واحد، لمدّة ثلاث ساعات. لم يكن هدف وجود نجم في فرنسا لقاء عبدالله، بل كانت زيارة خاصة في الأساس. قبل مغادرتها لبنان، بحثت مع الرئيس ميشال عون، ورئيس حكومة تصريف الأعمال حسّان دياب، وبقية المعنيين، إن كانوا يُرحّبون باجتماعها بعبدالله، فأتى الجواب إيجابياً. الرئيس عون كان فاتح الرئيس الفرنسي، أثناء وجوده في لبنان، بقضية عبدالله. ماكرون شرح البعد القانوني، وهو ما جعل عون يقرر إرسال شخصية معنية بالجانب القانوني. التحضيرات لزيارة نجم للسجن تمّت بعد وصولها إلى فرنسا، وقد حرص الفرنسيون على ربط الموافقة على طلب الزيارة بعدم تصريح الويزرة بأي معلومة للإعلام قبل الزيارة وبعدها، وفق ما تؤكّد مصادر دبلوماسية. يقول روبير عبدالله، شقيق جورج، إنّ الأخير «كان مُرتاحاً خلال لقائه نَجم، ولا سيّما أنّها المرّة الأولى التي يزوره فيها وزير لبناني، وهي أبلغته وجود متابعة رسمية لقضيته».

    يشترط الفرنسيون اعتذار عبدالله عن ماضيه لمنحه عفواً رئاسياً

    أما التطور الثاني، فهو زيارة المدير العام للأمن العام، اللواء عبّاس ابراهيم، فرنسا وعقده لقاءات مع مسؤولين فرنسيين بحث خلالها إطلاق سراح عبدالله، ضمن جدول أعمال إضافي يشمل الموقف الفرنسي من المسألة الحكومية في لبنان وخلفيات الحديث عن عقوبات مفترضة على مسؤولين لبنانيين بتهمة عرقلة تأليف الحكومة.

    «هذه المرّة يوجد جدّية فرنسية في ملفّ جورج عبدالله لم نعهدها سابقاً»، تقول مصادر مُتابعة للقضية، مُعتبرةً أنّ «المفاوضات قطعت شوطاً مُهمّاً». إلا أنّ الحَذَر وعدم المبالغة في الرهان على «الضمير الفرنسي» يبقيان واجبين. القضية لم تصل خطّ النهاية، بسبب عراقيل ما زالت السلطات الفرنسية ترفعها في وجه لبنان. تُفيد المعلومات بأنّه قبل زيارة نجم – برفقة السفير رامي عدوان – الأسير عبدالله، التقت مسؤولين فرنسيين أبلغوها أنّ «مفتاح حلّ القضية هو إصدار عبدالله بياناً يُقدّم فيه اعتذاره لذوي الذين سقطوا في العمليات التي اتُّهم بتنفيذها وندمه عن الماضي، حينها سيصدر عفو رئاسي فرنسي عنه ويُطلق سراحه». جورج، الذي يحتفل في 2 نيسان بعيد ميلاده الـ70، ذكّر وزيرة العدل بمواقفه ضدّ الامبريالية، مؤكداً التزامه نهج المقاومة، ومُكرّراً عدم ندمه ورفضه الاعتذار عن ماضيه. والأهم من ذلك، أنّ جورج مُتمسّك بما أعلنه سابقاً: رفض تسوّل حريته، وهو يتمنى على السلطات في بيروت عدم التفاوض باسمه حول إطلاق سراحه بناءً على الشروط الفرنسية. وهو يرى نفسه سجيناً سياسياً، ولتتحمل فرنسا مسؤولية احتجازه أو حتى إعدامه في السجن.

    يقول محامي عبدالله، الفرنسي جان لوي شالانسيه لـ«الأخبار»، إنّه لم تطرأ عوامل جديدة على الملفّ، خاصة أنّه «في أيلول الماضي، تقدّمنا بطلب إفراج مشروط جديد عن جورج، وما زلنا حتى الساعة لم نتلقّ جواباً». ويبحث المحامي حالياً في نقل الملفّ إلى الدوائر القضائية الأوروبية.

    الصمت الفرنسي الرسمي، قابله ارتفاع في التحركات الشعبية المُندّدة بقرار اعتقال جورج. يقول روبير عبدالله إنّ التحركات تتصاعد «ببطء ولكن بانتظام، أكان عبر التضامن الشعبي أم الرسائل التي يوجهها نواب إلى الإليزيه لإطلاق سراح جورج. يُمكن القول إنّه إلى حدّ ما، بدأ الموضوع يتحوّل إلى قضية رأي عام في فرنسا». وفي هذا الإطار، يقول أحد مؤسّسي «الحزب الجديد المناهض للرأسمالية ، آلان بوجولا، إنّه في السنوات السابقة «كنّا نعاني من حملات ترهيب، والتضليل الممارس ضدّ جورج وعائلته في الصحافة الفرنسية. حالياً، ما زالت المشاركة في التظاهرات واللقاءات ضئيلة نسبياً، ولكن نجد أنّها مُنتشرة في العديد من المدن الفرنسية». بوجولا هو مؤسّس «تجمّع تحرير عبدالله» يعتبر في حديث مع «الأخبار» أنّ «الكرة في ملعب اللبنانيين الذين عليهم أن يستغلوا علاقاتهم مع الإدارة الفرنسية والضغط لإطلاق السراح».

    أبسط قواعد العمل الدبلوماسي والعلاقات الدولية، تفرض أن يُعلّق لبنان أي تعاون مع باريس قبل حلّ قضية عبدالله… إذا كان مُلتزماً بالإفراج عنه عبر استخدام الوسائل «الشرعية». لا أن يُسمح لماكرون باستعادة «أمجاده الاستعمارية»، ويتصرّف كما لو أنّه أهلٌ لإطلاق مُبادرات «إنقاذية» والتهديد بعقوبات سياسية وتعيين وزراء ومسؤولين رسميين، خاصة أنّ ماكرون يُمثّل استمرارية للعقلية الفرنسية الخانعة أمام مصالح «إسرائيل». لا يزال يتردّد صدى خطابه في «المعهد العالي للأعمال قبل انتخابه رئيساً سنة 2017، حين أعلن من بيروت أنّه «ضدّ اعتراف فرنسا بالدولة الفلسطينية من دون اتفاق سلام بين الطرفين، وضدّ ممارسة أي ضغط على اسرائيل». جورج غير مُتهم بتنفيذ أي عملية ضدّ مواطنين فرنسيين، ولكن لأنّ نضاله كان بوجه قوى الهيمنة والاستعمار ودفاعاً عن الشعوب، ستبقى «جريمته» غير مغفورة لدى «ورثتهم».

    War Drums Beat In Middle East After Thousands Of Casualties In Beirut Explosion


    On the evening of August 4th, a massive explosion rocked the port of the Lebanese capital of Beirut, causing devastating damage and leaving thousands of casualties. The explosion sent a shockwave across the city and blew out windows up to 10 kilometers away. It was felt as far away as Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea.

    As of the morning of August 5th, the number of reported fatalities exceeded 100, with at least 4,000 people reported  injured. At least 48 staff members of the United Nations and 27 members of their families were among the injured. 10 rescuers involved in the operation to contain the damage and to help people have been reported killed.

    Initial reports suggested that the explosion may have been caused by an incident in the firework storage area. However, later, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, which is typically used as an agricultural fertilizer, had been stored for six years at a port warehouse without proper safety measures, “endangering the safety of citizens.”

    This statement was backed by General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim, who said a “highly explosive material” had been confiscated years earlier and stored in the warehouse, just minutes’ walk from Beirut’s shopping and nightlife districts.

    It is still unclear what caused the explosion itself thus laying the ground for various speculations in mainstream media outlets and on social media platforms. In particular, reports suggested that a number of Hezbollah members were in the port area at the moment of the explosion. This immediately caused reports that this may have been a result of some Israeli attack, for example sabotage actions or a somehow unnoticed missile strike, and that the site of the explosion was in fact a part of the Hezbollah military infrastructure.

    The Israeli Defense Forces did not officially comment on these speculations. Israeli media, which are often eager to promote supposed Israeli military victories, claimed that Israeli forces did not attack Beirut. In their turn, Hezbollah denounced reports that the explosion happened on one of their sites saying that there was no Israeli attack on August 4.

    Nonetheless, it seems that the US leadership has a quite different point of view. Commenting on the situation after a meeting with military officials, President Donald Trump claimed that the incident was an attack. “They seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind,” Trump said.

    Whatever the real cause of the tragedy turns out to be, the Beirut explosions have already fueled tensions in the region. And despite comments by Hezbollah and Israeli media that it was not a military incident, the warring sides are actively accusing each other. Comments by the US President about a supposed attack on the Beirut port do not make the situation any easier.

    Taking into account the recent series of military incidents on the Israeli-Lebanese contact line, and in the Israeli-occupied area of the Golan Heights, any new border provocation may easily lead to a larger escalation. The years of war propaganda and military confrontations together with increased tension within Israeli and Lebanese society respectively have already created conditions in which a further, even small, military incident may appear to be enough to provoke a larger war in the region. This large war is in no interest of Tel Aviv or Hezbollah because it will obviously have a devastating impact on both Israel and Lebanon. In this light, it is especially interesting that the Trump administration is making statements that would contribute to this scenario. There is a chance that in a time of a deepening social and political crisis in the US on top of a complicated economic situation in the runup to the next US Presidential election, some hotheads may believe that a new, theoretically ‘victorious’ war in the Middle East, could help them to remain in power.

    Beirut Explosion Leaves Scores of Casualties, Entirely Damaged City

    Beirut Explosion Leaves Scores of Casualties, Entirely Damaged City

    By Staff, Agencies

    A massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital city of Beirut, leaving a very high number of casualties and injuries as well as terrible damage to almost the entire city.

    A warehouse at the Beirut Port caught fire on Tuesday afternoon, triggering a huge explosion, Lebanon’s official National News Agency [NNA] reported.

    Several smaller explosions were heard before the bigger one occurred.

    Commenting on the tragedy, Head of Lebanon’s General Security Major General Abbas Ibrahim said “highly explosive materials” confiscated earlier had been stored at the site.

    Footage shared on social media captured the moment of the bigger explosion, with a colossal shock wave seen traveling fast across several hundreds of meters and shrouding the area in thick smoke.

    The blast left enormous material damage to the surrounding buildings and structures. But it was not immediately known how big an area was affected.

    There was also no immediate casualty count. Graphic amateur video from the scene showed bodies strewn on the ground, with their clothes blown off.

    The NNA said rescue operations were underway. Ambulances were seen heading toward the scene in central Beirut.

    Relatively, Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan said the blast had caused a “very high number of injuries” and “extensive damage.”

    Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud said an unspecified number of firefighters dispatched to extinguish the initial fire were killed in the explosion.

    “As they were putting out the fire, the explosion took place and we’ve [lost them],” he said, breaking down on live TV.


    Hezbollah releases its first statement after Beirut Port explosion

    By News Desk -2020-08-04

    BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:15 P.M.) – Hezbollah has issued a statement this evening about the recent explosion that took place at the Port of Beirut in the central part of the capital.

    “We extend our condolences to the Lebanese people over this national tragedy, and we are putting our capabilities to the service of our people,” Hezbollah said in a statement, commenting on the explosion that took place at Beirut Port today.

    “This tragic catastrophe and its unprecedented devastation has serious consequences at various levels and will require from all Lebanese and all political forces and national actors solidarity, unity and joint action to overcome the effects of this cruel ordeal.”

    The statement continued: “We extend to the honorable Lebanese people and the families of the martyrs and the wounded, the deepest levels of sympathy and a feeling of deep sorrow for this great national tragedy.”

    The Hezbollah statement further saluted all the medical and nursing staff, humanitarian relief organizations and the civil defense and firefighters for their great efforts in rescue, first aid and assistance.

    The Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has postponed his speech, which was scheduled for tomorrow, until further notice due to the national tragedy and a commitment to national mourning.

    The Lebanese Ministry of Health announced that the number of victims has risen to 63 and more than 3,000 were injured in the Beirut Port explosion.

    The cause of the explosion remains unknown at this time; however, the Lebanese Armed Forces have deployed to the scene of the explosion to help civilians and put out the fire.

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    For his part, the Director General of the Lebanese General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, said that “the talk about fireworks is ridiculous”, stressing that investigations are under way.

    He added: “It appears that the explosion occurred in a store of high explosive materials confiscated for years.”

    Sources: LBCI, RT

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