Lebanon Parl’t Approves Sweeping Powers for Army
BEIRUT (Dispatches) – Lebanon’s parliament has agreed to a two-week state of emergency in Beirut giving the army new powers, ten days after a massive blast rocked the capital killing nearly 200 and injuring thousands more.
The order grants the army new sweeping powers to deal with the aftermath of the explosion, citing the exceptional circumstances in the country following a massive explosion in Beirut last week.
Under the state of emergency, the Lebanese Army has the power to shut down assembly spaces, try civilians for security-related crimes in the military court and to set curfew hours, according to Legal Agenda, a Beirut-based legal monitor.
The emergency state was first declared by then-Prime Minister Hassan Diab the day after the 4 August explosion and extended.
The huge explosion - one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts in history - was fueled by some 2,750 tonnes of dangerous chemicals left in storage at Beirut’s port for nearly seven years, with the knowledge of top security and political officials.
Ten days after the explosion, rescue workers recovered the remains of firefighters killed while battling the initial blaze, as authorities appointed a well-respected judge to lead the investigation.
Relatives of three firefighters from the same family, who had been at the port attempting to put out the fire thought to have ignited the blast, were informed that the remains of two of them had been identified by DNA analysis.
"I don’t have words to describe the fire that consumes us. Imagine getting to the point of being happy to have found the remains of two among you,” said Antonella Hitti on Facebook, after learning that the remains of her brother Najib, 27, and her cousin Charbel, 22, had been identified.
The remains of seven of the 10 firefighters who responded to the initial blaze have now been found.
Public anger at the negligence that allowed hazardous materials to be left in a warehouse in the heart of the capital despite repeated warnings has reignited a protest movement that had largely fizzled out in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the face of demands for his government to step down, Diab resigned on Monday.
Lebanon continued on Friday to receive support and donations from foreign countries.
Switzerland signed an agreement with Lebanon to start the rehabilitation of Saint George Hospital University Medical Center and Karantina hospital, to enable the Lebanese heath sector to offer services to a higher number of injured people after four hospitals went out of service due to the explosions.
Meanwhile, India offered 70 tons of food products including flour, rice, and lentils in addition to blankets and mattresses since a big number of people have become homeless after the explosions.
Also, Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin received a Russian aircraft carrying medical equipment for the Lebanese hospitals.
Moreover, Lebanon’s caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan opened on Friday the field hospital offered by Qatar to assist the health sector in Lebanon.