Lebanese army arrests soldiers who assaulted ER doctor

Special Lebanese army arrests soldiers who assaulted ER doctor
The footage was captured by CCTV late Tuesday after a man was brought to the city’s Dar Al-Shifaa hospital with a bullet wound following clashes between two families. (Screengrab)
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Updated 21 May 2020

Lebanese army arrests soldiers who assaulted ER doctor

Lebanese army arrests soldiers who assaulted ER doctor
  • Violent clashes break out between rival families in Baalbek neighborhood

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) arrested two soldiers on Wednesday after an attack on a doctor in the emergency room (ER) at a hospital in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, on Tuesday night.

Footage obtained from surveillance cameras in the Dar Al-Shifa Hospital circulated on social media sites showing the attack on Dr. Luay Shibli by two Lebanese soldiers, who were allegedly trying to interrogate a patient the doctor was treating.

Dr. Shibli refused to allow the soldiers to question the injured person as he was in a critical condition, according to the head of the hospital’s medical committee, Dr. Ahmed Al-Boush.

“Although the doctor (Shibli) told the soldiers more than once that he was an ER doctor, this did not stop them from attacking him as if he were a war criminal,” Dr. Al-Boush said.

The LAF said in a statement that the incident was “an individual act that does not represent the military, its ethics and principles,” and declared that it “immediately took disciplinary action against the two military personnel who attacked the doctor. They were arrested and an investigation is underway.”

Condemnation of the incident was widespread, joined by multiple Lebanese doctors and medical associations. Salim Abi Saleh, the president of Tripoli Medical Association, described the incident as “unacceptable bullying” and called for “rapid” action against the assailants.

Abi Saleh sent the footage of the attack to Defense Minister Zeina Akar, who rejected “any attack against the dignity of any citizen.”

The assault on Dr. Shibli was not the only violent incident to go viral in Lebanon this week. Another video clip, of a Bangladeshi worker at the RAMCO Waste Management company, caused outrage when it showed the worker, identified only as “Inayatullah,” lying on the floor and tied up with a rope. 

The release of the tape followed a statement issued by Bangladeshi workers complaining of the “mistreatment” they were exposed to by the company’s management.

The company, however, doubled down, describing the tape as part of a “slander” campaign against it, and calling it a form of extortion. Bangladeshi workers at the company had protested a few days ago over discrepancies in their pay.

The company’s management said in a statement on Wednesday that it “worked with great effort and endeavor with the ambassador and consul of Bangladesh in Lebanon, who was briefed on the company’s dealings with its workers, especially those from Bangladesh, and a preliminary agreement was reached that resolves the workers’ demands, leading to the containment of the situation.”

In Baalbek, residents and their cameras also captured further violent scenes, as two rival families came to blows, some with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). Four people were reportedly injured. 

The clashes took place in the Sharawneh neighborhood between members of two local families: The Wehbe family and the Jaafar family. “A family feud developed between the two, which led to intense gunfire using light weapons and RPGs,” the LAF said in a statement. It added that army units were deployed to intervene in the clashes, and that patrols and checkpoints had been established to contain the area. It concluded that LAF units were investigating, and pursuing those involved.