Syrian refugee killed by stray bullet during Lebanon’s New Year celebrations

Special Syrian refugee killed by stray bullet during Lebanon’s New Year celebrations
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A Lebanese woman takes a selfie while celebrating New Year at a restaurant, ignoring the mask appeal of the health minister, in Beirut on Friday. (AP)
Special Syrian refugee killed by stray bullet during Lebanon’s New Year celebrations
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Lebanese security forces patrol a street full of restaurants where revelers celebrating the New Year Eve, in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 02 January 2021

Syrian refugee killed by stray bullet during Lebanon’s New Year celebrations

Syrian refugee killed by stray bullet during Lebanon’s New Year celebrations
  • Lilian Shiito wakes from coma caused by the Beirut port explosion five months ago
  • A Middle East Airlines plane on the tarmac at Beirut’s airport was hit as people in a southern Beirut neighborhood fired in the air

BEIRUT: A Syrian refugee at a camp in Baalbeck was killed on New Year’s Eve by a stray bullet, which had been fired into the air to celebrate the arrival of 2021 at midnight. Head of the Internal Security Forces public relations department Col. Joseph Mousallem told Arab News: “The number of injuries caused by stray bullets was modest because people chose to bid farewell to 2020 in their homes, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and because of the measures taken by the security forces, who were patrolling the streets. People were asked not to stay out in the open as midnight approaches to avoid stray bullets.”

According to security reports, the majority of those shooting bullets into the air were based in the Bekaa region, as well as in some Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon, and some neighborhoods and suburbs of Beirut.

The Syrian victim was named as Houria Ali Al-Jasem. She was 38 years old. Initial security reports said that others had also been wounded by stray bullets in the area of ​​Baalbek, in the vicinity of Beirut airport, and in Tripoli.

Chairman and director general of Middle East Airlines Mohamad El-Hout told Arab News that three of the company’s planes parked at Beirut’s airport had been struck by stray bullets.

“The engineering team inspected all the planes at dawn before takeoff. They also withdrew the bullet-struck aircraft from service,” El-Hout said.

He called on authorities to “strengthen their control over the area surrounding the airport and in other areas to prevent … unacceptable practices.”

Lebanon’s National News Agency stated: “The ambiance of the Palestinian camps in Rashidieh, the Borj El-Chmali and El-Buss in the vicinity of Tyre witnessed heavy gunshots on the occasion of the New Year, and the whizzing of bullets was clearly heard — tracer rounds were seen exploding in the air.”

Beirut MP Rola Al-Tabash condemned the practice. “It is neither manhood nor heroism, shooting over people's heads,” she said. “It is a backward and criminal phenomenon.”

It is neither manhood nor heroism, shooting over people’s heads … It is a backward and criminal phenomenon.

Rola Al-Tabash, Beirut MP

Al-Tabash called on the security and judicial agencies to “strike hard,” saying: “It is not right for us to all be hostages to some outlaws.”

One person died and 12 were injured in 10 road traffic accidents over Thursday night into Friday morning, according to reports.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of several New Year's Eve events. A number of people contacted by Arab News said they had canceled their plans and stayed home in isolation.

The Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that 3,507 new cases, and 12 deaths had been recorded in the 24 hours leading up to its announcement.

Many took to social media to plead for help to get relatives admitted to hospital, as the occupancy rate in intensive care rooms in Beirut reached a reported 95 percent.

The Ministry of Health said that areas in which Christmas gatherings took place had seen the largest number of new infections.

Public health advisor Petra Khoury said, “The number of Corona infections exceeded our expectations. We are entering a difficult phase, especially in January and February. There are no available beds in intensive care, and the problem is very complex. We need a change in the citizens’ behaviors.”

In happier news, it was announced on Friday that 26-year-old Lebanese citizen Lilian Shiito, who had been in a coma since August 4 as a result of injuries sustained during the Beirut port explosion, had woken up.

Shiito had given birth to her first child just six weeks prior to suffering a fractured skull and internal bleeding during the explosion.